Government should use Budget to bring certainty on funding of supported housing, says NHF
The Prime Minister’s announcements have shown that social housing and house-building are firmly back at the top of the Government’s agenda, says NHF Chief Executive, David Orr.
Housing associations have an ambition to deliver. Providing a quality, affordable home for every person is the social purpose that drives us to keep building. Last year housing associations started 48,000 homes – an increase of 13% on 2015/16. The Prime Minister’s recent announcements around housing signal a huge opportunity for the sector to deliver further, but this is just the start of what we can do if the Autumn Budget makes bold changes for housing.
The sector wants to build 120,000 homes a year by 2033, across a wide mix of tenures – homes for social and affordable rent, and for sale, for people of all ages and walks of life.
Not only do housing associations represent excellent value for taxpayer money – for every £1 Government puts in, housing associations raise a further £6 – they also save the taxpayer around £1.4bn per year in housing benefit compared to the private rented sector. Our members house 1 in 10 people in England and reinvest their profits into homes and communities.
But we can, and are ready to, do more.
The tragic fire at Grenfell Tower, rising homelessness and many people’s loss of hope that they will ever own a home has prompted a long overdue national conversation about the need for high quality affordable housing. Across all parties and across all sections of the population, people are taking a long hard look at our broken housing market.
The Prime Minister’s announcements have shown that social housing and housebuilding are firmly back at the top of the Government’s agenda. The Government’s commitments around the National Housing Federation’s Autumn Budget asks – £2bn for social housing and certainty on housing association rents post-2020 – represents a true break with the past. With these, the sector can unleash its full potential.
There is now consensus that we need genuinely affordable housing. Almost 3 in 4 people support more affordable homes in their area. The Prime Minister pledged to dedicate her premiership to solving the broken housing market. And the Affordable Homes Programme is now worth £9bn of investment.
While we look to the Budget to confirm the details of the latest welcome announcements, some vital unknowns remain, including around affordable access to land and flexibility on grant funding.
But to complete the picture, we hope and trust the Government will use the Budget to bring certainty on the funding of supported housing. 17,000 vulnerable people desperately need supported homes. This demand will be exacerbated by the 85% drop in planned new supported and sheltered housing due to the uncertainty around future funding. It is time for the Government to deliver a sustainable funding model that puts supported housing on a secure footing.
We must turn consensus into action. Housing associations are ready to work with every party to build a new generation of genuinely affordable, quality homes for rent and for sale. Let’s get started.
David Orr is Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation, the trade body for England’s housing associations.