THE latest official figures on affordable housing supply show that England remains far removed from delivering enough homes to offer any realistic answer to its chronic housing crisis.
There were 57,485 homes classed as affordable completed in England in 2018-19; an increase of 22% compared to the previous year, according to the figures released today by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG).
Of these homes, 66% were for social, “affordable” or intermediate rent. This represents a continuing decline since 2014-15, when it represented a 78% share of overall completions.
However, social housing remained the ‘poor cousin’, with only 6,287 new homes completed in 2018-19, despite it being widely accepted as the most affordable kind of housing. This was down from 6,679 the previous year.
Organisation such as the National Housing Federation, Chartered Institute of Housing, and others, have pointed to a need to build at least 90,000 social homes a year as part of efforts to tackle the housing crisis.
Meanwhile, starts in England were up 10% on the previous year with 61,056 getting underway in 2018-19. Of these, just 4,783 were social rent properties.
“[This] data reveals another disastrous drop in the provision of homes for social rent under the current government. Local authorities – who are responsible for meeting local housing needs – are under increasing pressure to deliver,” said Mark Robinson, chief executive of Scape Group.
“Delivering a step change in providing homes for our communities demands a radical solution, and I believe the answer lies in the past.
“Councils must be given more power to build social housing themselves – as they were in the 1970s, before housing associations became non-governmental delivery agents for the provision of social rented housing. In 1977, when councils were still responsible for new social housing 121,000 homes were built.
“The last general election saw concern over housing reach the highest level amongst voters since 1974. Particularly among 18 to 34 year olds. This is a crisis that no politician should be allowed to ignore. Housing must be at the centre of the upcoming election and it’s vital that we see an ambitious renewal of council housebuilding at the heart of every party’s manifesto.”
Clive Docwra, managing director of property and construction consultancy McBains, said: “[These] figures will no doubt be seen in some quarters as a progression in that more affordable homes are being built.
“But the fact is that around three million homes need to be built in the next two decades to meet the housing crisis. The Government has singularly failed to build anywhere near enough homes. Earlier this month, for example, a report from the National Audit Office found that a government pledge to build 200,000 new starter homes for first time buyers in England had failed to produce a single property.
“We need to see the major parties make strong policy commitments to boost the housebuilding programme, which is failing to deliver the number of homes required to meet the housing shortage.”