UK govt announces new affordable homes programme

A programme to build up to 165,000 new affordable homes over three years is an essential part of the UK government’s long term economic plan, Housing Minister Kris Hopkins announced today (Monday 27 January).

He said that the ambitious scheme will achieve the fastest rate of affordable house building for 20 years, support 165,000 jobs in construction and sustain thousands of British businesses.

Starting today housing associations, councils, and house builders will be invited to bid for government funding that, when combined with private investment, will deliver a £23 billion programme between 2015 and 2018.

Hopkins explained that by putting in more private sector funding than previous programmes, the scheme will achieve a better deal for taxpayers and every home built under the scheme will support a person’s job. That means 165,000 job opportunities over three years in every part of the country, many for young people.

The building programme will also provide a boost to thousands of small businesses that supply building materials to developers, from timber traders to tile makers.

Almost a million independent firms are involved in the construction industry, accounting for 20% of all small and medium-sized companies, and businesses that supply building products have an annual turnover of more than £50 billion, which contributes 4.5% to the UK’s Gross Domestic Product.

Hopkins also pointed out that house building was at its highest level since 2007, and construction orders were increasing at the fastest rate for 10 years, but it was now vital that councils provided more land for new homes, and the surge of house building continues to grow.

‘House building is an essential part of this government’s long term economic plan. That’s why we have designed an ambitious new scheme to build affordable homes at the fastest rate for 20 years,’ he said.

‘Our programme will support 165,000 jobs in construction, sustain thousands of small businesses and provide homes where future generations can live and raise families of their own,’ he added.

Housing associations applying for funding will have to focus on delivering new homes that are in short supply in their local area. In many communities this could mean building more one and two bedroom homes, so that smaller households can move to more suitably sized accommodation.

Some social landlords own very valuable homes in the most expensive parts of towns and cities, and they will need to demonstrate that they are using their property portfolio in the most effective way possible.

This means that when a home they rent becomes vacant, they will have to consider whether to re-let the property to a new tenant, or sell that property and use the money to build new homes, so more families can benefit from decent, affordable accommodation.

Housing associations responsible for delivering new homes under the programme will also benefit from the certainty and stability of the new rent policy announced by the Chancellor George Osborne in June’s Spending Review. The 10 year rent deal from 2015 will provide the longest period of certainty the sector has ever been given, and will give landlords confidence to plan long term housing development.

The new scheme will build on the success of the current affordable housing programme. It is on track to deliver 170,000 homes by 2015, which means 335,000 new affordable homes will be delivered between 2011 and 2018.

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