The housing secretary Robert Jenrick has announced a one-year extension to the government’s current Affordable Homes Programme (AHP) to combat housebuilding delays caused by COVID-19.
Housing associations and councils will now have an extra year of government support to begin delivering new affordable homes as the coronavirus pandemic is estimated to have stalled the construction of 53,000 new homes.
The £9 billion programme will be extended by 12 months from its initial March 2022 closing date and will now last until March 2023.
Jenrick said: “Today I am announcing that we are giving more flexibility to housing associations and councils to help them deliver affordable homes. We’ve listened closely to the sector and agreed that there will now have a longer deadline for using government funding to get these homes built.
“Building the homes the country needs is central to the mission of this government as we prioritise uniting and levelling up the country.”
The government has already tried to limit COVID-19’s negative effect on homebuilding by announcing the extension of planning permission deadlines last month.
Under the new rules, sites with consent that have an expiry date between the start of lockdown in March and the end of this year will see their consent extended to 1 April 2021.
This latest announcement follows last week’s confirmation that the government will launch a new £12.2 billion affordable homes programme starting next year, which will aim to support up to 180,000 new affordable homes.
Other housing announcements made last week included a 1,500 unit pilot of the government’s new First Homes scheme as part of the new AHP, a new strategy exploring how public land can be put to better use, and widespread reform to the planning system.
The government’s extension of the current AHP has been welcomed by housing associations, who say it will give them more time to build the new homes the country needs.
Catherine Ryder, director of policy and research at the National Housing Federation, said: “It’s really good news the government have extended the current affordable homes programme. It shows the government are listening to us and that they understand how lockdown has made it difficult to keep building new social homes during this period.
“Housing associations are ambitious about building the social homes the country needs. Now they will be able to plan knowing current government funding is safe even if development has been delayed as a result of coronavirus.”
Image: The housing secretary Robert Jenrick. Credit: Chris McAndrew/Creative Commons