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Housing

A £1.3bn affordable housing fund could ‘deliver 42,500 homes and 9,300 jobs’

The Affordable Housing Commission’s report eyes ways to make housing more affordable, preventing homelessness and protecting jobs – aligning with the goals of our Ride Out Recession Alliance

A £1.3bn “national conversion fund” to buy-up private housing for social rent could create 42,500 new affordable homes and 9,300 new jobs, says the Affordable Housing Commission.

Housing leaders are urging the government to set up the fund in England to boost economic recovery and bolster housing supply as the UK grapples with the fall-out of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Commission argues that a fund would enable social landlords and community-led housing groups to purchase private rented housing to mitigate the anticipated slump in prices and activity on the housing market, pointing to the Conservatives’ Housing Market Package in the nineties as past proof of the strategy working.

The new proposals would require grants of £1.255 billion but only end up costing the government £623m due to savings from housing welfare and wider benefits. Overall, the commission is believe that the net economic benefits of the entire project would work out at £1.369bn over the next 30 years.

The Big Issue has formed the Ride Out Recession Alliance to come up with vital solutions to protect people from the economic impact of Covid-19. Much like the Affordable Housing Commission’s fund, our goal is to prevent homelessness and protect jobs as the recession continues to bite in the UK.

We believe the Chancellor has a great opportunity to stimulate the economy, boost jobs and tackle the housing crisis by backing plans for a National Housing Conversion Fund

Social rent homes have been in short supply for decades with successive governments failing to build enough to counter the continued loss of social housing to the private sector. Last year the Local Government Association estimated that failure to build 100,000 social rent homes every year for the last two decades has cost tenants a combined £1.8bn.

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And with the current crisis causing increased financial hardship there is even more acute need for more access to affordable homes to prevent homelessness. The Commission says a conversion fund is a cost-effective way to help tenants, where buying up distressed private properties in low-value areas could improve housing conditions and contribute to the government’s strategic ambitions to “level up” the economy and reduce carbon emissions.

The £1.3bn would make grants available to housing providers to purchase private rented homes and convert them into social housing at genuinely affordable rents as well as release cash to kickstart development on sites where work has stalled. It would also be contingent on investing in a property to raise standards, generating local employment.

Lord Richard Best, Chair of the Affordable Housing Commission, said: “We believe the Chancellor has a great opportunity to stimulate the economy, boost jobs and tackle the housing crisis by backing plans for a National Housing Conversion Fund.

“This would bring empty and run-down properties back to life, stimulate activity on stalled sites, and assist landlords exiting the market, while addressing the acute shortage of homes at truly affordable rents.”

The Big Issue is working alongside RORA partners Shelter, Unilever and many more to come up with plans to keep prevent homelessness and protect jobs. We need your ideas too. Tell us your experiences, ideas and plans at rora@bigissue.com.

Image: Alex Liivet

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