Local councils, of all political parties, have agreed that the Government’s Starter Homes policy will hinder rather than help to tackle the growing need for genuinely affordable housing in England. They have also raised concerns about the impacts of the Government’s plans to reduce social rents by 1% a year for the next four years and the extension of the Right to Buy to housing association tenants.
With the House of Lords scrutinising key measures in the Housing and Planning Bill this week the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) and Association for Public Sector Excellence (APSE) have published the results of a survey of local government which reveals that just 7% of councils think that Starter Homes, which are designed to help the under 40s, will help to address the need for affordable housing.
Kate Henderson, Chief Executive of the TCPA said: “Low cost homeownership, such as starter homes, may help some people get a first step on the housing ladder, but as the survey of council’s highlights this will not address the need for genuinely affordable homes. We need a housing strategy for the nation that provides decent homes for everyone in society, including those most in need in the current housing crisis.
“Our survey has revealed that four out of five councils do not think starter homes should be classified as affordable housing because they are simply not affordable for essential low-paid workers – whose employment underpins an economy on which we all depend – or for many people on average incomes.”
Over two thirds of councils (69%) stated that the Government’s proposal to reduce social rents by 1% a year for the next four years has negatively impacted plans for new social and affordable housing, with only 3% saying that they plan to build more social and affordable homes as a result.
Almost three fifths of councils described their need for more affordable housing as severe and 37% as moderate, and 89% of respondents think that the extension of Right to Buy will lead to less housing available for social rent, with only one council thinking that it would be beneficial.
Paul O’Brien, Chief Executive of APSE said:
“What is clear from these survey results is that the headlong rush to extend Right to Buy to housing associations is an ill-thought out measure which enjoys little support, and this is reflected across the different political parties at a local level. With Nine out of 10 councils genuinely concerned that the extension of the Right to Buy to housing association tenants will further diminish the already short supply of socially-rented homes, available in their local communities, we say to Government now is the right time to listen on Right to Buy.”
This research is based on an online survey, which was sent to Council Leaders, Heads of Planning, Heads of Housing and Heads of Finance in local authorities across England in February 2016.