COUNCIL leaders in Manchester will today consider taking up a new approach to the delivery of genuinely affordable homes in the city.
A key report, which reviews housing affordability in the city, will be presented before the council’s cabinet and scrutiny committee. It presents a range of policy ideas that are claimed will helped increase the supply of genuinely affordable homes across a range of tenures to meet the different needs of residents.
The report was produced to suggest ways to tackle the challenges of Manchester’s housing market. The city’s population continues to grow rapidly, and “sustained austerity” – along with welfare changes including Universal Credit – are continuing to “put pressure on the city’s most vulnerable residents”.
There are 5,000 people in need on the local authority’s housing register, and the city has seen a marked increase in homelessness.
In an update to a commitment made in 2015, the council has predicted that 32,000 new homes will be built in the city from April 2015 to March 2026, including 6,400 “affordable” homes to meet the city’s aim that such properties should account for 20% of new housing delivered.
Since April 2015, 3,000 affordable homes have either already been delivered or are in the pipeline, the council says, with the full quota to be delivered by March 2021, and a further 3,400 “affordable” homes will be built by March 2025 – at least 1,000 of which will be social rent.
The policy paper going to the council’s scrutiny committee and executive will advise that 3,000 new council-built homes should be built in the next 10 years, split equally between social rent, affordable rent and shared ownership to give residents options to access housing regardless of their income.
This will help absorb home losses to Right to Buy and amount to 1,500 net new additional council homes in the city. Furthermore, the council will also explore how council homes can be built outside of the Right to Buy legislation in the city’s four affordability zones.
The paper also commits to a feasibility study into an affordable housing project in the city centre to further explore housing options for people on lower incomes.
What’s more, the council will continue to build its strong relationship with housing associations and private sector developers to drive home building that is “right for Manchester and its residents”.
To this end, 500 plots on small sites will be released to registered providers by March 2019 where at least a third of the homes built will be social rent and will be delivered in full by 2022.
The report also urges increase opportunities for older people to access appropriate accommodation, such as Extra Care, that meets their needs, which also helps to free up larger family homes and open them up to people in need on the housing register.
Furthermore, to “unleash the potential of grassroots” housing demand, the council will explore the feasibility of three community-led housing projects for people to build their own homes. A forward-thinking project will also explore the feasibility of at least three projects on council land, unleashing the potential of grassroots projects for people to build their own homes across all tenures by summer 2019.
“These new policies signal a bold new approach to deliver genuinely affordable homes that meet the needs of all Manchester people,” said Councillor Suzanne Richards, Manchester City Council’s executive member for housing and regeneration.
“Manchester is a hugely popular place to live and work but as the city’s success attracts more residents, we must also meet the demand for more housing. As housing demand has increased and social housing has been lost through right to buy we have seen many residents on lower incomes unable to access the safe, secure housing that they need.
“The impact of years of austerity on the city’s public services and punishing welfare forms that have squeezed family budgets mean we have to try to do more with less money to support those residents on the lowest incomes. This review of housing affordability is critical to understanding what we can do to improve access to decent, secure and affordable homes for Manchester people.
“From working with communities to help them build their own housing to a programme of more than 3,000 new council-built homes we are determined to solve our cities affordable housing crisis and ensure everyone in Manchester has access to a safe, secure and sustainable home.”