Collapse in the number of new social homes for rent

Government’s own figures show a fall to 5,380 last year from 39,560 in 2010/11.


The government’s own numbers expose a collapse in the building of homes for social rent in England since 2010.

Figures released by the DCLG show an additional 41,530 affordable homes were delivered in England in 2016-17, 27% higher than the previous year.

But the total includes 5,380 homes for social rent – down from 6,800 in 2015/16 and 39,560 in 2010/11.

Overall, those 41,530 affordable homes delivered in 2016/17 comprised 5,380 social rent, 24,350 affordable rent and 11,810 intermediate affordable housing.

Chartered Institute of Housing head of policy Melanie Rees said the stats showed the number of new social rented homes had “collapsed” given the extent of the fall.

“It’s encouraging to see a 27 per cent increase in the number of affordable homes delivered in 2016/17. However, very few of them were for social rent, which is significantly cheaper than market rent and the only truly affordable option for many people on lower incomes.

“We desperately need more genuinely affordable homes to tackle our national housing crisis and address rising levels of homelessness.

“Theresa May’s recent announcement of an extra £2 billion investment was a very welcome first step, but we think the government can go further in rebalancing its housing budget away from the private sector towards affordable housing.

“Our analysis shows 80 per cent of the government’s housing budget to 2020/21 is targeted at the private market, with just 20 per cent going to affordable homes.”

Polly Neate, chief executive at Shelter, said it was “unacceptable”  to see the lowest number of social homes being built since the Second World War – just as homelessness in England alone topped 250,000 in England.

“It’s positive to see an increase in affordable housebuilding, however we’re starting at an extremely low base and the gap between the amount we need and what is being delivered is widening.

“With rents sky high and more than 250,000 people homeless in England, it’s clear to see just how bad our affordable housing shortage has become. This is largely due to handing near total control of our housebuilding to big developers who have little appetite for building affordable homes.

“The government has a real opportunity to set things right in the upcoming Budget, it can start by reducing the mammoth cost of land and closing loopholes which are draining the country of the affordable homes families are crying out for.”

Wera Hobhouse, Lib Dem spokesperson for Communities and Local Government, said the government wasclutching at straws” to  its record on affordable housing.

“Younger generations in particular are being left behind because this Conservative government are failing to provide a place to call home.

“The Liberal Democrats have called for half a million affordable homes to be built in this parliament. This government lacks ambition and because of that renting is now unaffordable for many people and homelessness is soaring.”

All told, the DCLG figures show:

  • An additional 41,530 affordable homes were delivered in England in 2016-17
  • Affordable housing delivery in 2016/17 was 27% higher than the previous year
  • The 41,530 affordable homes delivered in 2016/17 comprised 5,380 social rent, 24,350 affordable rent and 11,810 intermediate affordable housing
  • The 11,810 intermediate affordable housing comprised of 2,060 affordable home ownership, 8,810 shared ownership and 940 intermediate rent units
  • As the Shared Ownership and Affordable Homes Programme 2016 -2021 continues to roll out the number of shared ownership properties completed more than doubled with 8,810 completed in 2016-17 compared to 4,080 2015-16.
  • New build homes accounted for 92 per cent of all affordable homes provided in 2016-17, with 7 per cent from providers acquiring existing private stock. • There were 49,420 affordable housing starts on site in 2016/17.

The increase is said to reflect both the transition to the 2016-2021 affordable homes programme and the increase in section 106 nil grant units completed.

Section 106 nil grant units are delivered as a percentage requirement on private developments and levels of private house building have increased over recent years.

Looking at longer trends, supply generally peaks towards the end of each affordable housing programme.

For example, supply peaked at 66,600 in 2014-15, which was the last year of the 2011 to 2015 programme.

As part of a house building cycle, delivery is normally lower in the first years of any new housing programme.

In London, responsibility for affordable housing transferred to the Mayor in April 2012.

This meant that the Homes and Communities Agency(HCA) no longer administer or report on most affordable housing delivery in London, which is now the responsibility of the Greater London Authority (GLA).

Of the 41,530 affordable homes delivered in 2016/17, 67% were reported by the HCA and GLA; down on the 70 per cent reported by the HCA and GLA in 2015-16.

The remaining 33% were reported to the Department by local authorities and other delivery partners.

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