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Wed June 16 2021

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Pickles promises house-building drive

28 Jun 13 A public housing drive is set to see the construction of ‘up to’ 200,000 affordable homes by April 2018.

The government’s £100bn Infrastructure Statement includes a £3.3bn affordable homes programme.

From 2015 the Homes & Communities Agency (HCA) and the Greater London Authority will work with housing providers to build 165,000 affordable homes over three years. According to communities secretary Eric Pickles, this is “the fastest annual rate of building for at least 20 years”.

The extra investment means that, added to existing plans for next year, the government will start construction of up to 200,000 new affordable homes in the four years from 2014, he said.

The government will also introduce the new Affordable Rent to Buy scheme. This £400 million programme will provide funding for new build homes to be let to tenants at affordable rents for a fixed period of time, allowing them to save for a deposit. At the end of this period, the sitting tenant will get first option to buy the home.

Mr Pickles said: “We are determined to make the most of every single square inch of previously-used land available and accelerate the rate of housebuilding. Getting stalled sites up and running and speeding up the release of public land is crucial to this, and will ensure we build more homes where people need them.”

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Other measures in today’s spending review include:

  • £102m for the Get Britain Building pot, aimed at getting stalled housing sites moving again. The scheme is credited with delivering 42,000 homes so far.
  • A further £160m investment to finish off the Decent Homes programme, targeted at those councils with the biggest backlogs of repairs. Since 2010 £1.6bn has been allocated to improving public housing through the Decent Homes programme but the programme is now 97% complete, the government said.

HCA chief executive Andy Rose said: “There are significant opportunities in today’s announcement for house builders and providers to meet their development aspirations. Our role now is to maximise the impact of the investment that has been made available and we will be talking to the sector about implementation, to take advantage of these opportunities.”

Raglan Housing chief executive Nicholas Harris was not so impressed. He said: “While we recognise there seems to have been a shift towards providing more affordable housing, and that the figure is significant – more than we’ve seen in the last 20 years – the investment still does not go far enough.

“We are already working with the Homes & Communities Agency as a partner on its affordable homes programme – tasked with delivery 552 new homes by 2015. The extra funds which are set to be released post 2015 will mean housing associations can continue this work but, we also need assurances that the procurement of grants will be efficient with government red tape cut, to help us tackle our desperate shortage of housing, both in urban and rural areas."

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