The government has confirmed plans for what it says will be a
new generation of council and housing association homes by
increasing funding for affordable homes by a further £2 billion to
more than £9 billion, But how much of this will be available for
Previously, the government's Affordable Housing Programme (AHP)
primarily supported 'affordable rent' (i.e. rents of up to 80% of
local market level) and low-cost home ownership schemes but the
Prime Minister at the recent Conservative Party conference
announced that an additional £2bn will be allocated to the AHP and
the programme will now extend support for 'social rent' - which are
lower rents, set according to national guidelines.
The numbers of homes that can be provided with these extra funds
will be determined by the type and location of housing and bids
received for funding, but the government announcements says that
with a typical grant subsidy of £80,000, this £2 billion investment
can supply around 25,000 more homes over the next 5 years.
The announcement of £2bn additional resources for the AHP was
made alongside the announcement that a further £10bn will be
allocated to the government's Help to Buy Scheme to provide equity loans for
around 135,000 households to purchase a new build property up to
the value of £600,000.
It would appear that any bids for funding for new social rented
housing may be limited to areas"of acute affordability pressure,
and where working families are struggling with the costs of rent
and some are at risk of homelessness." It is not clear at
this stage what the government may determine to be "areas of acute
affordability pressures". The money will be allocated by the
Greater London Authority (GLA) in London and the Homes &
Communities Agency (HCA) for the rest of England.
The government's Affordable Homes Programme will increase from
£7.1 billion of public funding to £9.1 billion, and the government
say that the £2 billion additional funding for affordable housing
could lever in total investment by housing associations and
councils of up to £5 billion.
Despite the allocation of this additional money being heralded
in some parts of the media as a renaissance for council housing, at
this stage it remains unclear how much of this extra £2bn will find
its way to councils for new council housing. To start with ARCH
understands this additional money is not specifically "ring-fenced"
for social rented housing and, even if it was, councils will have
to compete with housing associations in bidding for this additional
ARCH Chief Executive John Bibby discussed the government's
announcement of an additional £2bn for the AHP with senior
officials at the Department for Communities and Local Government
(DCLG) immediately following the announcement and we are seeking
clarification on a number of matters relating to the announcement
- Whether the additional £2bn allocation to the AHP to be
ring-fenced for social rent only?
- Confirmation that this is an additional £2bn over the life of
this parliament - i.e. over 5 years? And whether the
allocation to be spread evenly over those 5 years or if there a
different allocation profile?
- Whether all of this additional allocation be open to bids from
both Local authorities and housing associations in some form of
- Presumably the bidding process will be managed by the HCA/GLA
in accordance with their usual processes?
- Who will determine locations for invitations to bid? i.e. who
defines "areas of acute affordability pressures"?
- How much of the additional £2bn will be targeted at
- Will the "typical £80,000 subsidy" be in the form of grant for
both HAs & Las and if councils have committed their borrowing
headroom will consideration be given to increasing the HRA debt
- When will the bidding guidance be available and the bidding
- If, as appears to be the case, there is now an acceptance that
a typical subsidy of £80,000 is needed to deliver social rented
housing will the government reflect this in 1-4-1 RTB agreements
and can ARCH provide more evidence, for example on the impact of
the "30% rule" to demonstrate the need for more flexibility in use
of RTB receipts for 1-4-1 new build.
- How does this allocation link to use of public land?
- Whether this additional allocation & bidding process in any
way linked to the introduction of "Bespoke Housing Deals" referred
to in the Housing White Paper and the governments manifesto pledge
to build "a new generation of council housing" in the form of 10/15
year Fixed Term Council Housing?
John also pressed DCLG on what this announcement might mean for
the future of the High Value Asset (HVA) Levy and the sale of
higher value council housing - policies set out in the Housing
& Planning Act 2016 and previously announced to be introduced
at some time after April 2018. John Bibby, ARCH Chief Executive
The fact that the government, for the first time in many
years, is now prepared to back a policy of investment in social
rented housing (including council housing) marks a significant
change in housing policy which up to now has almost exclusively
been geared towards the promotion of home ownership.
ARCH welcome's the allocation of an additional £2bn in the
AHP for social rented housing - hopefully as a first step to
further investment in the future but we recognise that in response
councils will need to deliver.
We are pleased that the government have at long last
recognised the need for social rented housing alongside other
tenures but compared to the additional £10bn for Help to Buy and
way the announcement had raised high expectations in the sector
having been hyped in the earlier press briefings as the "unveiling
of a major council house building programme" there is inevitably a
little disappointment that it was not more, that the funding is to
be spread over the life of the parliament and that it is not
exclusively available for new council housing.
Greater certainty around future rent income and availability
of these additional funds in the AHP is most welcome but ARCH have
concerns that the continued and ongoing uncertainty around the HVA
levy is still likely to act as a drag for some councils in building
new council housing. There is a very strong appetite amongst
councils to build, as demonstrated by the number of councils
setting up local housing companies, but some councils are concerned
that any new build council housing may exceed the, as yet to be
defined, Higher Value thresholds and may therefore be taken into
account in the HVA Levy formula and ultimately increase the levy
they will be required to pay and force councils to sell off any new
build properties when they become vacant after first letting in
order to raise the money to pay the levy.
We urgently need to know from government when wecan we
expect an announcement on the HVA Levy and if the government is
still intent on pressing ahead with the HVA levy whether minister's
will at least consider exempting any new build council housing from
the levy calculation?