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Rise in affordable houses will not solve crisis

November 2019

New official figures show an increase in the number of affordable homes delivered in 2018-19; but a property and construction consultancy says the number is still way under the numbers needed to solve the housing crisis.

According to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, the Affordable Housing Supply: April 2018 to March 2019 figures for England show that there were 57,485 affordable home completions in England in 2018-19, an increase of 22% on the previous year.

But commenting on the new figures, Clive Docwra, Managing Director of construction consultancy McBains, said: “Today’s figures will no doubt be seen in some quarters as a progression in that more affordable homes are being built.  But the fact is that around three million homes need to be built in the next two decades to meet the housing crisis.  The Government has singularly failed to build anywhere near enough homes.  Earlier this month, for example, a report from the National Audit Office found that a government pledge to build 200,000 new starter homes for first time buyers in England had failed to produce a single property.”

“We need to see the major parties make strong policy commitments to boost the housebuilding programme, which is failing to deliver the number of homes required to meet the housing shortage,” continues Docwra.  “The parties need to look at new funding models as currently there is little incentive for large developers to build affordable homes.”

“One solution could be establishing a Government-backed fund through which pension schemes would be able to invest directly in affordable housing construction schemes, as has been suggested by housing associations.  It could be run by the housing association sector, help fund smaller housebuilders who are currently being hit by Brexit uncertainty and a weak economy, and use modern methods of construction to fast-produce new homes.  Equally, affordable housing could provide pension schemes with a reliable, socially responsible, long-term investment option.”

“We clearly need to think radically,” concludes Docwra, “as otherwise we will continue to fail to make inroads into the amount of affordable homes required to meet demand.”

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