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Housebuilders struggling to meet social housing demand, reveals survey

Words: Laura Edgar
New homes / iStock-172624927

Despite affordable and social housing being a top priority in England, housebuilders are struggling to meet demand as a result of local authorities not commissioning enough to be built, a new survey has suggested.

Construction consulting and design agency McBains commissioned VIGA to carry out the survey of 431 housebuilders across England.

Government statistics published in January 2018 suggest that local authorities in England owned 1.6 million homes in 2017, down from 3.67 million in 1994.

In response to the decline, McBains said its survey asked housebuilders how many council homes, and separately affordable homes through Section 106 agreements, they had built in the past two years, as well as what they expect to build in the next year.

On average, respondents to the survey say they have been contracted to build 191 homes in the past two years, and 263 in London. Of these homes, 16 per cent on average were social housing. In London, it was 15 per cent.

Housebuilders expect that just 16 per cent of the total number of properties (on average, 181 homes) they will build in the next year will be classed as social housing, with 20 per cent expected to be affordable. In London, they expect 19 per cent of the homes they build (255) to be affordable and 16 per cent to be for social housing.

Of the homes built by respondents over the past two years, 22 per cent on average (22 per cent in London) were affordable homes built under Section 106 legislation. In the next year, housebuilders expect 20 per cent of these to be classed as affordable homes. For London, this is just 19 per cent.

Michael Thirkettle, chief executive of McBains, said: “Our survey suggests that local authorities are not commissioning social housing in anywhere near the numbers needed to meet demand.

“Similarly, the chronic need for affordable homes, in London especially, is not being met, with less than one in five homes classed as affordable. It means those most in need of housing will find it harder than ever to find accommodation within their budget.

“Developers are frequently accused of stifling the construction of new homes by ‘land banking’ – sitting on land so that site values increase. But often the reason is that obtaining planning permission can stretch on for months, if not years, while the developer has already invested heavily in the project. Streamlining the planning system to help developments get off the ground quicker is required.”

Image credit | iStock