Chancellor George Osborne says the Government will commit a further £225m to start the construction of 15,000 affordable homes in England by 2015.
The pledge as part of the Budget effectively doubles the size of the existing affordable homes guarantee programme.
E.surv chartered surveyors director Richard Sexton says: “The government’s pledge to build 15,000 more affordable homes is welcome, but it’s just a drop in the ocean. A lack of affordable housing is a gaping wound in the economy. More homes need to be built – and the government needs to do much more to help. We need 270,000 new homes a year in England to meet demand, yet in 2012 there were just 105,090 housing starts. That’s a critical shortfall.”
“A lack of homes is stymieing the recovery. Urban land accounts for 10 per cent of land England, yet green belt regions cover 13 per cent. We’ve got the balance wrong. If urban land area was increased by just 2 per cent, site requirements would be met. And that’s without cutting into inflexible green belt sites. The problem is incentive. The government needs to encourage local councils to build, and land owners to develop banked land. And brown-field sites are a resource that can’t be ignored. There is enough brown-field land to accommodate almost 300,000 homes. But the developing process is complex and tedious. It needs to be simplified.”
Homes and Communities Agency statistics released in June showed a 68 per cent fall in the number of affordable homes being built in 2011/12, representing just 19,967 new projects down from 57,648 affordable homes started in 2010/11.
The Government responded by saying it was still on track to meet its target of building 170,000 homes over the parliament.
The Communities and Housing department published a report entitled “Review of the barriers to institutional investment in private rented homes” in August which suggested local authorities scrapped affordable social housing requirements in cases where rental properties stand a greater chance of attracting private capital.
In October, shadow chancellor Ed Balls proposed using the proceeds from the £4bn sale of 4G mobile phone licenses to pay for 100,000 affordable homes in addition to introducing a stamp duty holiday for first-time buyers.