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Affordable housing must not just pay lip service

Katie Coyne11/01/2017 - 15:56

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Funds available for affordable funding
Funds available for affordable funding

Affordable housing must be ‘genuinely affordable’ otherwise it won’t relieve pressure and will boost the private rented sector ‘through the back door,’ warned the CIEH.

It was reacting to an announcement from the DCLG, which revealed that £7bn of money pledged to affordable housing had been ‘unlocked’. This means that housing providers can now apply to the fund, which should provide funding to deliver 200,000 new homes.

The department also announced the housing providers who have been allocated funding for affordable housing to the total of £1.28bn. It added that more detail would be revealed in the housing white paper due out later this month.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said: ‘This government is committed to increasing housing supply and halting the decline in affordability.

‘Our newly expanded affordable housing programme, turbo-charged by a multi-billion pound investment, will allow housing associations to build more homes in places where they are most needed, particularly for families who are just about managing.

‘By encouraging the delivery of more homes under a variety of tenures, we can create a housing market which truly works for everyone, meeting the diverse housing needs of this country.’

The National Housing Federation welcomed the announcement and chief executive, David Orr, said: ‘This funding and the relaxed restrictions for building affordable homes will enable housing associations to provide the right mix of houses.’

But while the CIEH welcomed the Government’s commitment to affordable housing, CIEH head of policy Tony Lewis, warned that the programme must not simply turn into a prop for the private rented sector.

He said: ‘People have become increasingly reliant on the private rented sector for housing and many because they have nowhere else to turn to. The Government’s announcement to expand the affordable housing programme will help relieve some of the pressure on the private rented sector, giving people more opportunities to own their home.

‘If this scheme is to be a success, however, affordable housing must be genuinely affordable and has to be prioritised for those most in need. We cannot have a situation where the private rented sector is allowed to increase through the back door.’

CIEH is a membership body for environmental health professionals, with many working in the local authority sector inspecting conditions in the private rented sector and enforcing regulations where problems are found.

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