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Thu January 27 2022

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New report shows extent of drop in construction of social housing

23 Nov 18 Newly published statistics show that the number of new homes built for social rent in England has fallen 79% over the past decade.

The Affordable Housing Supply figures have been published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government.

The latest official figures from the Local Authority Housing Register for England show that the average local authority has over 3,500 families on its council housing waiting list.  

 “The housing association model has proven itself highly effective for the management of estates, however it is not building homes for social rent at the scale the country needs, said Mark Robinson, chief executive at public sector procurement specialist Scape Group. “There are approximately 1,700 housing associations in England. In 2017/18, registered providers based in England, representing 89% of the UK housing association stock completed just 4,500 homes for social rent. This is not simply the result of short-term factors like Brexit, the Rent Reduction Policy, or Right to Buy. This is a long-term problem.”

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Scape has recently surveyed local authority officers with management responsibility for housing in their council, and found:

  • 100% would like to be able to fund and build more housing for social rent directly in their area;
  • 35% explained that the skills shortage within the construction industry was one of the main barriers preventing councils from building more housing in their area;
  • 24% commented that slow construction was a major barrier, rising to 42% in the Midlands, Eastern England, and Yorkshire.

“Delivering a step change in providing homes for our communities demands a radical solution,” said Robinson. “That answer lies in the past. Councils must be empowered to build social housing themselves – as they were in the 1970s before housing associations started to occupy a key role as non-governmental delivery agents for the provision of social rented housing. In 1977, when new social housing remained the responsibility of councils 121,000 homes were built.

“To return to the halcyon days of social rented housing construction, local authorities must find a way to persuade government they are best-positioned to address the challenge and that they have a credible plan to achieve results. Local authorities will need to demonstrate they have a plan to circumvent problems, such as the skills shortage in the construction industry, that could hold back a huge increase in the construction of social rented homes. So we truly see a revolution in council building, the government needs to consider ways of adjusting the planning system to create fast track routes for modular homes to be built.”

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