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Extending the affordable homes programme: new research released

Posted on 09 September 2020

Doubling the duration of Affordable Homes Programmes could have a ‘transformative effect’ on the number of homes built by housing associations, new research has revealed.

The research has been commissioned by the CASE group of housing associations, the National Housing Federation and Shelter.

"Double or Quits" by the UCL’s Bartlett School of Construction and Project Management shows government’s stop-start approach to grant funding has limited the number of affordable homes housing associations have been able to build. 

The Affordable Homes Programme – government’s principal method for grant funding new affordable housing – has typically lasted for three to five years, offering housing associations only short-term certainty over the availability of grant.

Successive programmes have had widely differing levels of overall funding, funding per home and the selection of tenures for which grant is available.

This lack of predictability has inevitably contributed to a more cautious approach by housing associations when it comes to building their development pipelines, and limited the number of affordable homes they have been able to deliver.

Amongst other things, it has affected their land purchasing behaviours, the nature of sites they have taken forward and their ability to collaborate with others. This has been reflected in pronounced peaks and troughs in delivery, which have had knock-on consequences for development costs, build quality and the productivity of the housebuilding industry.

"Double or Quits" shows a move to longer term funding, specifically doubling the duration of Affordable Homes Programmes from five years to ten, would address these problems, if administered flexibly and backed up by a significant increase in funding for social housing.

Read the full report here: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/construction/sites/bartlett/files/double-or-quits-september-2020.pdf

Polly Neate, Shelter Chief Executive said: "This research shows how extending the Affordable Homes Programme, and significantly increasing government investment in social housing, could mean we get the homes we so desperately need. The government needs to act now to build social housing, this would boost the economy, save jobs, and most importantly, give everyone a chance of a safe home."

Kate Henderson, Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation, said: “Investing in social housing is a real win-win for the government – as well as helping millions of people find a secure affordable home, it will also help to meet building targets and support the economy to bounce back from the coronavirus crisis.”