The UK’s affordable housing gap could grow to 500,000 homes over the next five years unless urgent action is taken to increase its supply, a new report has warned today.
The Affordable Housing Commission has published a 12-point plan for housing’s recovery from COVID-19, centred around policy changes in favour of social and affordable housing.
The Commission, comprised of 15 leading figures from the housing industry, said that a ‘boosted’ social housing sector would support jobs and growth, improve housing conditions, reduce carbon emissions, and help to combat poverty.
Lord Richard Best, chair of the Affordable Housing Commission, said: “A recovery plan, with a focus on social rented and affordable housing, will encourage jobs and growth and rebalance the housing system so it is fit for purpose post COVID-19.
“As people face reduced incomes and potential unemployment the need for truly affordable social rented homes becomes even greater.”
Measures suggested by the Commission in its 12-point plan, Making Housing Affordable After COVID-19, include returning housing grants to previous levels, reforms to Right to Buy and Permitted Development Rights, and a cap on rent rises.
The Commission has also proposed a new Housing Conversion Fund which will allow social landlords and community organisations to buy unsold homes and other properties such as private rented and empty homes.
The Commission’s report is not solely limited to advocating social and affordable housing, as it also proposes extending Help to Buy to existing properties to help first-time buyers.
This, it says, would improve intergenerational fairness and help first-time buyers at a time when lending restrictions are being tightened due to the COVID-19 crisis.
“With a weaker housing market and millions of renters under housing stress this is the moment for the social housing sector to step in, maintain the impetus for the construction industry and pick up the opportunities for growth,” Lord Best added.
“With decisive action from government now, there could be a big step forward in easing the affordable housing crisis.”
The Commission’s latest report takes forward recommendations it made in its landmark report Making Housing Affordable Again, which was published in March this year prior to the COVID-19 lockdown.
The report made over 50 recommendations for the UK to tackle unaffordable housing, including ensuring affordable housing opportunities for all by 2045.
Photo: Lord Best, chair of the Affordable Housing Commission. Credit: Roger Harris/Creative Commons