Teresa May has today told housing associations they will be given £2bn in new funding to help them build more affordable homes.
She addressed the National Housing Federation Conference, telling them that “the most ambitious” providers will be able to bid for government money to last them until 2028-29, in a bid to give them greater financial security.
Ms May also spoke about the ‘stigma’ surrounding social housing and called for developers to create homes that tenants could be proud of, even if they were low-cost homes, rather than having a “just good enough” mentality when developing affordable housing, and said the new funding will come from housing budgets in the next spending review period – although the details of the spending review are not due for publication until next year.
Ms May told delegates:
“Today, I can announce that new longer-term partnerships will be opened up to the most ambitious housing associations through a ground-breaking £2bn initiative. Under the scheme, associations will be able to apply for funding stretching as far ahead as 2028-29 – the first time any government has offered housing associations such long-term certainty.
“Doing so will give you the stability you need to get tens of thousands of affordable and social homes built where they are needed most, and make it easier for you to leverage the private finance you need to build many more.”
Ms May demanded associations “achieve things neither private developers nor local authorities are capable of doing” and call on them “to take the lead in transforming the very way in which we think about and deliver housing in this country” by “taking on and leading major developments themselves”, rather than simply buying properties built by developers, and said that politicians needed to change their attitudes towards social housing, saying:
“Many people in society – including too many politicians – continue to look down on social housing and, by extension, the people who call it their home. We should never see social housing as something that need simply be “good enough”… Our friends and neighbours who live in social housing are not second-rate citizens.”
Ben Denton, Managing Director of Legal & General Affordable Homes welcomed the funding, saying:
“This will help to deliver more homes at levels that residents can afford in areas which need it most. This additional funding will be allocated over a much longer period – to 2028/9 – allowing developers and housing associations to plan with much more certainty. Whilst good news, there is still more work to be done. Over the past decade, only 3,000 affordable homes have been delivered each year, highlighting the need to smooth the way for more institutional money to enter the sector. Having recently launched our affordable homes business, we are looking forward to proactively working with government and local authorities to bring forward institutional funding to deliver the additional affordable housing that the nation so desperately needs.”
Brian Cronin, group chief executive of Your Housing Group, a leading UK landlord and social housing provider with more than 28,000 homes across North West, Yorkshire and the Midlands, said they shared some of opinions voiced today and were already taking steps to improve standards within the sector:
“Like the government we want to change the nature and perception of the social housing sector, by creating property journeys for residents, which are more attuned to the lives they lead. Having a good quality rented home, managed by a professional dedicated landlord, can create a more flexible, less onerous tenure, at a lower cost for the tenant. Our aim is for our residents to be proud to rent. We’re investing over £50million in the next five years in our social housing offering and we’re committed to improving the professional landlord service we provide.”
However, Labour’s shadow housing secretary John Healey told the BBC the latest cash injection falls short and would not be enough to reverse the impact of previous cuts to housing budgets, saying:
“Any pledge of new investment is welcome, but the reality is spending on new affordable homes has been slashed so the number of new social rented homes built last year fell to the lowest level since records began. If Conservative ministers are serious about fixing the housing crisis they should back Labour’s plans to build a million genuinely affordable homes, including the biggest council housebuilding programme for more than 30 years.”