Housing

The government has committed to boosting the number of affordable houses

The £163m Community Housing Fund is aiming to improve last year’s drop in starts, while Homes England is teaming up with eight housing associations to tackle the housing crisis

The government is trying to turbocharge the number of affordable homes it’s building with the launch of a new Community Housing Fund that it claims will deliver 14,280 new houses.

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire revealed the £163m fund for community-led housing groups to build new homes across England on Monday before revealing strategic partnerships with eight housing associations at the Local Government Association’s conference the following day.

The investment will support new affordable homes built up to March 31 2020 with phase one of bidding applications open now until December 31 next year via the Homes England portal. A second phase will be launched later this year.

Funding in London will be delivered through a separate programme delivered by Greater London Authority, with £60m already allocated to 148 councils in December 2016.

Homes England chief executive Nick Walkley said: “Community-led housing is about local people playing a leading role in solving local housing problems to provide affordable homes and strengthen communities in ways that aren’t always possible to achieve through mainstream housing.

“At Homes England, we’re determined to increase the supply of homes across all tenures and increase capacity in the housing sector. This is a really important fund, which will offer lasting impact and we look forward to receiving bids from community groups across England.”

As for the housing association team-ups, the national housing agency will provide just under £590m from the affordable homes programme through to March 2022. The eight partners will deliver 23,500 additional homes with 61 per cent of them classed as affordable.

The move has been welcomed by chief executive of the National Housing Federation David Orr. He said: “We are delighted to have worked in close partnership with Homes England on this new approach to investing in affordable housing, which will support housing associations’ vital work to help solve the housing crisis.

“These strategic partnerships give ambitious housing associations the investment and flexibility they need to help increase the supply of new homes. We have been clear for many years that this will be a huge help in increasing delivery, and these partnerships are a testament to housing associations’ determination to build many more new homes.”

Homes England’s plans are a necessary shot in the arm as they try to tackle the housing crisis. Figures they released last month suggested that the number of affordable homes started last year fell by four per cent, even though the number of new properties where building work had begun rose by the same proportion.

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