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Major inquiry launched into delivery of social and affordable rented homes

A House of Commons Committee has launched a long reaching inquiry into the long term delivery of new social and affordable rented housing.

The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee is looking at the housing targets set by the Government as the figure of 300,000 new home by the mid 2020s includes just 3% of social homes to be built by local authorities.

Housing charity Shelter has said that over three million new social home would need to be built over a 20 year period to address social housing need. Amounting to 150,000 new social homes per year this is significantly higher than the Government’s current plans.

The new inquiry will investigate the effectiveness of the Government’s current strategies to boost social and affordable rented housing provision. This will include the adequacy of funding levels, as well as programmes and incentives for key stakeholders, such as local authorities and housing associations, to stimulate delivery.

The Committee will also look at the challenges facing different areas of the country and consider what lessons can be learnt from successful schemes in other countries.

‘Over the last decade the construction of new social and affordable rented homes has stagnated. The number of new homes built in this sector has slowed to a trickle of a few thousand a year, while at the same time demand becomes greater and greater,’ said Clive Betts, chair of the committee.

‘The Government has accepted that there needs to be much more new housing built each year, but it is possible that only 3% of its target of 300,000 new homes a year will be social homes built by local authorities,’ he pointed out.

‘We have launched this new inquiry to understand how effective the Government’s current housing strategy will be in meeting demand for social housing in the long term. We will examine how far current funding levels will promote new building projects, and what more can be done to encourage local authorities and housing associations to increase provision,’ he added.

‘Social housing has been left to drift for too long and we must ensure that there are coherent long term strategies to remedy this,’ he concluded.

The Committee is inviting written submissions to the inquiry by 12 July 2019. It is seeking views on how the Government can ensure the sustainable delivery of social and affordable rented housing to meet long term need and contribute to the Government’s overall house building targets.

It is also looking at what levels of central Government funding will be required to support this delivery over the next 10 years and how effective existing Government incentives and programmes.

It wants views on what further incentives the Government should provide to key stakeholders to stimulate delivery and whether supply subsidies the best way of supporting delivery, or if other approaches be considered.
The inquiry also covers the role of local authorities as enablers and providers as well as what Homes England, housing associations and other providers should be in terms of long term delivery.

It is looking at how the Government can ensure long term provision meets the needs of tenants and is adequately regulated as well as the best way to meet the different needs of individual regions and area.

Finally, it is looking at what lessons can be learned from alternative approaches to social and affordable rented housing delivery in other countries and jurisdictions.