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£1 billion boost for social housing as EU public bank warns of risk of Brexit

May 1, 2016 6:31 PM
Originally published by South Central Region Liberal Democrats

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has today agreed a £1 billion loan for affordable housing, supporting the building of 20,000 homes, but has warned that leaving the EU could put its future investment in the UK at risk.

The EIB is a crucial source of low-cost financing in the UK, providing £5.6 billion of long-term investment for fifty projects across the country in 2015. It has warned that Brexit would be likely to significantly reduce future lending, pointing to non-EU members Switzerland and Norway who combined have received forty times less investment than the UK in recent years.

Spokesperson for the Liberal Democrat EU referendum campaign Catherine Bearder MEP commented:

"The EU's Investment Bank is playing a key role in building the affordable housing and infrastructure our country so desperately needs.

"Leaving the EU would put this critical investment at risk and worsen the housing crisis affecting millions of people across the UK.

"This is yet another blow to those who want to drag us out of Europe at all costs."

Notes to Editors

EIB investments in the UK totalled £5.6 billion in 2015, a record year since lending began in 1973. This lending supported construction work at 77 schools, five university campuses and four hospitals. It has also upgraded energy links, strengthened water infrastructure with five of the largest water providers in the UK and improved broadband access in rural areas. The bank is now planning another £580m of loans directly to housing associations to build more social housing.

Over the past eight years, the bank has invested 42 times more in the UK than it has in Norway and Switzerland combined, both of which are non-EU members.

The EIB is owned directly by the 28 European Union member states, including a 16% stake held by the UK government. Unlike other European countries, the UK has no national infrastructure bank that could immediately replace the EIB as a source of long-term and low-cost loans.