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Affordable housing definition should change

Words: Laura Edgar
Affordable housing definition should include social homes / Shutterstock_176229827

Countryside communities could save more than £31 million a year if the definition of affordable housing was changed, claims the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

Analysis by the environmental campaign organisation suggests that this money could be saved if affordable rent levels were set according to the net income of tenants rather than market rates.

Rents set at 80 per cent of the standard market rate are classified as affordable, but the CPRE maintains this is still out of reach for many families and those on low incomes.

The CPRE suggests the government change this definition and set affordable rents at 35 per cent of net income for the lowest income groups, unless 80 per cent of market rate is cheaper.

Using the lower of these two indicators would help to even out the huge discrepancy in ‘affordable’ rent prices in different parts of the country, explains the CPRE. It would also provide a boost to families in need of homes that they can “genuinely” afford to live in.

This change to the definition of affordable could see families living in affordable rented homes across the countryside saving more than £600,000 a week in total, the analysis suggests.

The number of working-age people in the countryside has fallen, CPRE notes, resulting in the closure of schools, shops and various other services, which the group attributes to the lack of genuinely affordable housing.

Additionally, some of the most recent policy initiatives on affordable housing provision have focused on cities and major new developers. This change would immediately benefit people struggling to find a home in cities, villages or market towns.

Lois Lane, campaigns and policy officer at the CPRE, said the term “affordable housing” has become “completely meaningless”.

“The government’s failure to meet the housing needs of low-income families has escalated the housing crisis and is fuelling inequalities. Basing rent prices on income rather than the inflated costs of the market is a fair and logical solution that will help people across the country find homes they can actually afford to live in.”

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