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08/09/2020

Affordable housing prospectus published

Words: Laura Edgar
Affordable housing / Shutterstock_519502300

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick has launched the prospectus for the government’s affordable housing programme, which was announced in the Budget in March. 

The £12.2 billion overall investment includes £700 million to be spent on new homes through the 2016 to 2022 programme.

The £11.5 billion Affordable Homes Programme will be delivered over five years from 2021 to 2026, which would provide up to 180,000 new homes across England “should economic conditions allow” says the government. 

The programme is also aimed at unlocking another £38 billion in public and private investment in affordable housing. 

Around half of the new homes would be for affordable home ownership, while the remainder would be made available for affordable and social rent, including 10 per cent for supported housing for people with physical or mental health challenges.

Of the money, £7.5 billion will go to local authorities, housing associations and private providers outside London by government housing acceleration Homes England, while the Greater London Authority (GLA) has been offered £4 billion, as negotiations continue about what they will deliver with this funding. Homes England will publish the prospectus later this week.

The government has pledged that new homes would be made available from next year. 

Jenrick said: “Today’s announcement represents the highest single funding commitment to affordable housing in a decade and is part of our comprehensive plans to build back better.

“This government is helping hard-working families and prospective first-time buyers get their feet on the housing ladder in an affordable way.

“Thanks to the range of flexible ownership options being made available, more families across the country will be able to realise their dreams of owning their own home, with half of these homes being made available for ownership.”

Jenrick also announced that there will be a change to shared ownership. The new model will: 

  • Reduce the minimum initial share that can be bought in a property from 25 per cent to 10 per cent.
  • Allow people to buy additional shares in their home in 1 per cent instalments, with heavily reduced fees.
  • Introduce a 10-year period for new shared owners where the landlord would cover the cost of any repairs & maintenance. 

A consultation has been published by Jenrick on how best to raise accessibility standards for all new homes.

Nick Walkley, chief executive at Homes England, said: “The fund will support improved productivity in construction and unlock new economic opportunities across the country. Despite the challenges of Covid-19, this long-term funding settlement gives our partners the confidence they need to invest in new homes and the communities they work for.”


Reaction:

Polly Neate, chief executive at Shelter, said: “With an unprecedented recession underway, major job losses on the horizon, and a housing emergency about to spin out of control, the government must invest more in social housing than its current plans allow for. Social homes are designed to be genuinely affordable, which is exactly what we need right now. Discounted homeownership schemes are not.  

"We welcome the fact that today’s plan points to more social homes being built than we’ve seen in the past. But achieving the step change we need to deal with the scale of crisis that we face will require the government to go further, faster. In five years it will be too late, the government must ringfence enough money and spend it on social homes now.” 

Jonathan Seager, executive director of place at London First, commented: ​"It is good news that the government is continuing to invest in building the affordable homes this country needs, but the level of investment being offered only scratches the surface of England’s housing crisis. The potential £4 billion on offer to the Greater London Authority over five years is just below what London requires every year to help meet affordable housing need in the capital. In finalising the settlement with the mayor, the government must recognise the overwhelming need for affordable rented accommodation in London."

David Renard, Local Government Association housing spokesperson, said: “It is good the government has acted on our call to bring forward the Affordable Homes Programme. It is also positive that the government is consulting on how homes can be made more accessible for older and disabled people, which we have previously said should be key components of our mission to build new homes.

“With more than one million households on council housing waiting lists, it is vital that we build more housing for social rent, and we look forward to seeing more clarity around how this will be delivered.

“In addition, we would like to see the programme go further and allow councils to combine right to buy receipts with funding from the programme to deliver more housing.”


Image credit | Shutterstock

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