The European Union’s investment arm is lending Britain 1 billion pounds to help build social housing, its largest ever support for such programmes within Europe, it said on Monday, Reuters reports.
The loans would help housing associations build homes across the country and come on top of the 4.2 billion pounds the European Investment Bank [EIB.UL] has already provided for social housing and urban renewal in Britain since 1998, it said.
A lack of affordable homes has been a top political issue in Britain, with the shortage helping to push up prices, forcing many people particularly in London and the south east to rent for longer or buy homes further away from city centres.
The EIB statement comes ahead of a referendum in Britain on June 23 on whether to remain in the EU. Polls showing voters split on membership with a large number of people yet to decide. The EIB, which lent 5.6 billion pounds for investment in 40 projects in Britain last year, said the timing of the announcement was not linked to the referendum and that it took months for decisions to be made.
The decision is the latest loan to be awarded for British projects, following on from 1 billion pounds for energy infrastructure and renewable schemes. “It seems like some in Luxembourg think they can buy the referendum with a couple of cosmetic loans,” said a spokesman for Vote Leave, the campaign for Britain to quit the EU.
“If we Vote Leave we could decide ourselves which projects it is best to offer lending to.”