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Government’s Affordable Housing Pledge Criticised by CPRE

Housing pledges criticised
(Image credit: Getty Images)

New government pledges to increase affordable housing have been described as disingenuous by CPRE, the countryside charity. 

The government announced new measures this week to help get more people onto the property ladder, as part of a £12.2b investment to increase affordable housing (including £700m for new homes) which was announced in the Spring Budget.

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick confirmed that a new £11.5bn Affordable Homes Programme will be delivered between 2021-2026, providing up to 180,000 new homes across the UK, should economic conditions allow. 

Mr Jenrick described the announcement as the “highest single funding commitment to affordable housing in a decade”, but Tom Fyans, deputy chief executive of CPRE, says that more needs to be done. 

“While this funding seems impressive, it was announced in the Budget and doesn’t represent any additional investment to tackle the affordability crisis,” said Fyans. 

Affordable Housing is in Crisis

Fyans also criticised the government’s summer planning reforms, which proposed a five-fold increase in the affordable housing threshold on smaller sites. 

Currently developers can build up to 10 homes on sites before they need to provide any affordable homes, but the government proposed that this limit could be raised to 50. 

“This would be disastrous as it would make the existing affordable housing crisis in our rural communities even worse, leaving most rural areas with many fewer affordable homes,” said Fyans.  

“The government risks looking disingenuous when it claims to be keen to tackle the issue of affordability given outrageous proposals in the recently published planning white paper.”

(MORE: Planning Reforms Could be Revolutionary For the Self Build Industry)

What Else Was Announced?

The government also confirmed that around half of new homes made available through the new Affordable Homes Programme will be eligible for affordable home ownership. The rest will be made available for discounted rent, including 10% for supported housing, to help those with physical or mental health challenges. 

The measures also include a shared ownership model, which the government says will provide tenants with a pathway into home ownership by giving them the right to purchase a stake in their home. 

Homes England, the government’s housing accelerator, will deliver nearly £7.5bn of new homes outside London from next year, while the Greater London Authority has been offered £4bn. 

Homes England will publish its Affordable Homes Programme prospectus this week, and is now inviting councils, housing associations and provider providers to start preparing their bids. 

"This announcement represents the highest single funding commitment to affordable housing in a decade and is part of our comprehensive plans to build back better," said Mr Jenrick.

"This government is helping hard-working families and prospective first-time buyers get their feet on the housing ladder in an affordable way."