Friday, 15 July 2011 2:23 PM
Housing Minister Grant Shapps has revealed that the number of new affordable homes being built over the next four years is likely to be higher than he initially predicted.
Shapps detailed how his department believed its original target of delivering 150,000 new homes by 2015 would not only be met, but exceeded.
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said that appetite for its Affordable Homes Programme had helped put the Government on track to deliver up to 170,000 new homes by 2015.
Surpassing the original target is expected to safeguard some 80,000 jobs in construction and related trades while the Affordable Homes Programme, which will be delivered through 146 providers sharing funding of almost £1.8 billion, should contribute 80,000 to the total number of new homes to be built by 2015, DCLG said.
The programme allows social housing providers to charge a rent of up to 80 per cent of the local market level, and use the additional income to support delivery of more affordable homes. Providers may also offer flexible tenancies to new tenants.
Shapps said funding for the scheme, which is part of a £4.5 billion Government investment in affordable housing, would provide a major boost to people on housing waiting lists, and give a shot in the arm to the construction industry.
He added: "The Affordable Homes Programme has received a ringing endorsement from the sector and confounded the critics, who said the programme would not deliver in the current climate…
"There were some who predicted doom and said very few would want to be involved in this radical new approach. Others said it would work in the South-East but nowhere else. But we now have a wealth of strong proposals, putting us on track to deliver up to 170,000 new affordable homes across the country over the next four years."
The announcement has been welcomed by the Chartered Institute of Housing.
Sarah Webb, CIH Chief Executive, said: "It is testament to the hard work of organisations that they have been able to stretch the limited public funding available to this extent.
“There do, however, remain serious ongoing concerns about the impact of the new investment model on businesses' future investment prospects. We also know that while the 170,000 homes is good news, the consensus is that the number actually required to make a dent in a growing housing crisis is vastly higher."
Webb added that it was vital that the programme translated into homes that are really affordable and meet a range of needs.
“In particular, we must keep a close eye on the number of larger homes, rural homes and the supply of supported housing,” she said.
“Numbers in themselves are not the only prize, however. We will be watching the impact on the housing benefit bill, on housing organisations' capacity and on communities. In all this it is important for local authorities to have a greater level of involvement in the delivery of new homes as part of successful communities."