In the recent Autumn statement, the Chancellor, Phillip Hammond, made a number of big announcements that will impact the social housing sector. According to Hammond, “The challenge of delivering the housing we so desperately need in the places where it is currently least affordable is not, of course, a new one. The effect of unaffordable housing on our nations productivity makes it an urgent one”.
One of the biggest objections to housing development can often be the impact on local infrastructure. Therefore, the government will prioritise high value investment in infrastructure and innovation. With the launch of the £3 billion Home Building Fund in October, over 200,000 homes could potentially be unlocked and up to £2 billion to accelerate construction on public sector land.
Also, Hammond announced that an additional £1.4 billion of affordable homes cash, on top of the £4.7 billion previously announced, would be made available. Plus, the restrictions limiting this funding to homeownership products would be lifted so that different types of homes can be built. This has come from lobbying efforts by the housing sector since the EU referendum, with the National Housing Federations claim that they would be able to deliver more affordable homes if the government relaxed restrictions.
The Chancellor also said there was a pot of £4.8 billion for a National Affordable Housing Programme, of which, £3.5 billionn will go to London. This is hoping to build 90,000 affordable homes in the capital.
It was also announced that there would be a large-scale regional pilot of the Right to Buy extension. This pilot would mean that more than 3,000 tenants would be able to buy their properties if they wished to do so. The government estimated the cost of the policy to be £250 million over five years to 2020/21. The government will be using a central budget to reimburse housing associations for the discount that tenants will receive. The first sales in a pilot scheme, where five housing associations participated, completed during the summer.
Changes will also be made to Universal Credit. Claimants will lose 63p of every £1 they earn instead on 65p. This should help nearly 3 million households across the country.