The main elements of the new housing strategy
Right to Buy
Announced a couple of weeks ago and reiterated
in the strategy is a reinvigoration of the Right to Buy for Council
tenants, with larger discounts proposed. This currently
applies to council tenants and tenants of homes transferred from
local authorities to housing associations who have a ‘Preserved’
Right to Buy.
Our primary focus is to increase the supply of
affordable housing. We therefore welcome the Government’s
pledge that for every home bought through Right to Buy a new
affordable home will be built, but are not sure that the financing
arrangements announced so far will have this result. We would
like to see the scope of the Government’s pledge extended to ensure
that every Right to Buy sale results in a replacement home with a
similar number of bedrooms and that new homes are built
where the need for affordable housing is greatest.
Use of public land for
The government’s ambition is to release
publically owned land with the capacity to build 100,000 homes over
the spending review period. We welcome the release of land
for development but there are questions about where this land will
be, whether it will be where people want to live, and importantly,
what will be built on it. We support the National Housing
Federation’s call on Ministers to make brown field sites available
for free only to developers building affordable homes.
A £400 million “Get Britain Building Fund” has
been announced to kick start construction sites that have stalled
because of lack of finance. The strategy also announces plans
to consult on proposals to allow developers to require local
authorities to reconsider S106 agreements made before April
2010. Whilst we welcome plans to kick start construction, we
believe that S106 commitments to build affordable homes should
The government has announced a £500m Growing
Places Fund to allow local areas to invest in infrastructure where
the need for it currently stifles development.
The strategy acknowledges the financial
security afforded to HA’s through direct payment of housing
benefit. It states that following the introduction of
Universal credit there will be mechanisms put in place to switch
payment back to landlords in certain cases and arrangements to
recoup any arrears. Following research which revealed that
most of our residents – 9 out of 10 - would prefer their housing
benefit to be paid directly to us, we pushed for retaining direct
payments. We welcome this concession and await the results of
demonstration projects to test the switchback mechanisms.
Invitation to other businesses to join
the Affordable Housing sector
The HCA has issued guidance to help community
groups to access funding for Affordable Housing development and has
provided advice on how to register as a landlord.
The government has announced £100 million
capital funding within the Affordable Homes Programme to tackle
problem empty properties and bring them back into use as Affordable
Housing. They are bringing forward £2 million of this funding
to enable LA’s and RP’s to bring back over 200 empty homes into use
as affordable homes this financial year.
Launched by Grant Shapps last month, Homeswap
Direct links together four of the largest online mutual exchange
providers to allow social tenants to arrange mutual exchanges with
those registered on any of the sites. In future, the
government plans for this to link with the DWP online information
for people looking for work with the aim of encouraging people to
look for work in the new area where they plan to move.
Additionally, the strategy states that
government is supporting 12 local areas which will invest £1
million to investigate new methods of helping to support
The government has announced a new build
indemnity scheme whereby first time buyers can take out a mortgage
of up to 95% of the value of the property. The scheme is
being underwritten by the government which is providing a guarantee
to pay out in the event of repossession.
Many mortgages for first time buyers now
require substantial deposits (average 17%) and whilst paying high
private rents, many prospective buyers find it difficult to save
sufficient funds. Having identified this issue previously we
have already introduced a 95% mortgage deal with Santander for
buyers of our shared ownership homes.
FirstBuy (equity loan)
Already announced in the Budget, FirstBuy
equity loans of up to 20% will help first time buyers reduce the
deposit and mortgage required to buy a new build home. We
welcome this initiative and already offer this product to those
purchasing homes from us -
click here to go to our FirstBuy page.