Social housing remains the poor relation in rising supply of “affordable” tenures

THE rise in “affordable” housing supply has shown in stark contrast the continued slump in delivery of the most affordable kind of all – social housing.

Last year (2017-18) a total of 47,355 “affordable” homes were delivered in England, an increase of 12% of 2016-17.

However, as the latest figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) point out, since 2013-14 the most common tenure type has been the so-called “affordable rent” model, where properties are let at up to 80% of local private market rents.

In 2017-18, 57% (26,383) of “affordable” homes supplied were of this type.

Source: Affordable Housing Supply: April 2017 to March 2018, England, MHCLGBy contrast, the figures show that 6,463 were delivered at social rents in 2017-18; a slow crawl upwards from the low base of 5,380 delivered the year before. The figures have prompted some dismay from industry figures.

“Another year on year increase in the total number of affordable homes being built is a welcome step, but we still have a long way to go. It’s disappointing to see that so few of those homes are at the lowest social rents – the only truly affordable option for many people on lower incomes,” said Melanie Rees, head of policy and external affairs at the Chartered Institute of Housing.

“We desperately need more genuinely affordable homes to tackle our national housing crisis and rising levels of homelessness. Our analysis shows that we lost more than 150,000 homes for social rent in just five years between 2012 and 2017, and that figure could reach 230,000 by 2020 unless we take action now.

“Currently just 21% of government investment in housing is going to affordable housing. Rebalancing this budget to support people on lower incomes who can’t afford to buy would make a big difference. That’s why we’re calling on government to support councils and housing associations to build more homes for social rent.”

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of the homelessness charity Crisis, said: “These statistics show that the number of social homes being built is still a far cry from what our country needs. Thousands of people across England are trying to move on from homelessness but they simply have no way of finding a home – and the country’s urgent shortage of social homes is a key reason for this dire situation.

“While the number built this year is a slight improvement on last year’s post-war low, it still falls hopelessly below what is required. Our research shows that in England we need to build 90,000 social homes every year for the next 15 years to meet demand amongst both people who are homeless and those on low incomes, many of whom are at risk of homelessness.

“The Government’s recent decision to start re-investing in social housing are welcome, but they don’t go nearly far enough. In order to meet demand and solve homelessness, the government must significantly boost investment to deliver more homes social housing that homeless people can access. There are too many people waiting for somewhere to call home.”



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