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Housing

Affordable housing rise in 2020 is ‘a drop in the ocean’

The 57,644 affordable homes completed last year are still far below the number needed to end England’s housing crisis despite repeated pleas for more social housing

The number of affordable homes built in England last year has been described as a “drop in the ocean” after showing a tiny one per cent rise.

A total of 57,644 affordable homes were completed between March 2019 and April 2020 according to figures from the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government. But while this represents a small increase on the 57,485 built in 2018/19 and remains far below the levels needed to tackle England’s housing crisis.

It is a similar story for social rent homes with 6,566 homes completed in the same period, up four per cent on the 6,338 built in 2018/19.

That figure is still the third lowest on record while 162 local authorities did not complete any social rent housing at all in the last year, including in Bolton, Liverpool, Hull and Nottingham.

Social rent homes are the type of homes most in demand after successive governments neglected to build them while council house waiting lists have continued to rise. Last month the Local Government Association warned that waiting lists will double to two million people following the impact of the pandemic.

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Housing charity Shelter has set the target of building three million social homes over the next two decades

Shelter chief executive Polly Neate said the increase “is a drop in the ocean. 

“It is unbelievable that in the middle of a nationwide housing emergency over half of the country saw no new social homes built at all.

“Every day our services pick up the phone to more and more people desperate for the security of a social home. With so many families facing homelessness already and the economic impact of the pandemic only just starting to be felt, more social housing is our only way out of this crisis.”

The Government has heralded the £11.5bn Affordable Homes Programme as their answer to the housing crisis, promising that it will deliver 180,000 new homes between 2021 and 2026.

A report accompanying the new statistics notes “as part of a house building cycle, delivery is normally lower in the first years of any new programme” but it remains to be seen if the programme delivers the social homes needed to prevent more people falling into homelessness or becoming trapped in temporary accommodation.

A government spokesperson said: “The number of new affordable homes built has increased for the fourth year in a row. We’re going to keep on delivering, increasing the supply of affordable housing.”

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