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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Boosting affordable housing

Two new reports have been published by the Affordable Housing Commission: Making Housing Affordable After Covid-19 and A National Housing Conversion Fund: buying properties to boost affordable housing supply.

Making Housing Affordable After Covid-19

The first of the new reports calls for policy change in support of social and affordable housing, which the AHC say will be key to a post Covid-19 recovery. Investing in social housing will:

  • Provide much needed, genuinely affordable homes.
  • Support jobs and local growth.
  • Improve the nation’s aging housing stock.
  • Reduce carbon emissions.
  • Combat poverty.

The report calls for a 12-point housing-led recovery plan including:

  • Increased investment in a scaled up and fast tracked social and affordable housing programme.
  • Replace the ‘affordable rent’ model with one based on social renting (based on rents at a third of household net incomes of the intended occupiers).
  • Strengthen the safety net for renters who struggle with housing costs, including reviewing eviction protection.
  • Cap annual rent increases in the PRS to an index of income growth for a fixed period and end ‘no fault’ evictions.
  • Protect homeowners by reducing delays before payment of Support for Mortgage Interest and making SMI a grant not a loan.

A National Housing Conversion Fund: buying properties to boost affordable housing supply

The second report explores ways to increase the supply of social and affordable housing, including targeting funds to purchase homes on the secondary (existing) market. Such a programme could help those who are struggling and desperately needing to sell.

The report also calls for additional funding for social landlords to purchase homes for sale which are under construction and using them as social and affordable housing. This approach would aid the construction sector as well as meeting the strategic objective of making more affordable housing. The overarching case for a NHCF rests not only on the urgent need to increase social and affordable housing and rebalance the housing system, but also a quick and cost-effective way of supporting the economy in the aftermath of the pandemic. The Commission argue that such a scheme would also improve housing conditions and contribute to the government’s strategic goals of levelling up the economy and reducing carbon emissions.

What is the Affordable Housing Commission?

The Affordable Housing Commission (AHC) is an independent, non-partisan group established by The Smith Institute with the support of the Nationwide Foundation. It is chaired by Lord Best with 14 leading players from across the housing world. Over the past two years the AHC has undertaken a wide-ranging review of housing affordability in England.

Tagged In

Research, Affordability
This article was written on 29 October 2020. It should not be relied on as a statement of the current law or policy position. For help with housing issues please contact our helpline on 028 9024 5640 or use our online chat service at www.housingadviceNI.org.