- Published: July 16, 2020
The Smith Institute’s Affordable Housing Commission published a report into making affordable housing after Covid-19.
A policy change in favour of social and affordable housing will be key to a post Covid-19 recovery. Besides providing more – much needed – genuinely affordable homes, increasing investment in social housing offers the opportunity to support jobs and local growth, improve the nation’s ageing housing stock, reduce carbon emissions, and combat poverty.
In this follow up report to the Commission’s main findings, the Commission recommends that government – in partnership with local government and the housing sector – takes the initiative to put in place a 12 point housing-led recovery plan. This should include:
Increase investment in a scaled-up and fast tracked social and affordable housing programme, with grant rates returning at least to 2010 levels
Establish a new ‘Housing Conversion Fund’ to help social landlords and community organisations to acquire developers’ unsold homes, and to buy rented properties from over-stretched buy-to-let landlords, and down-at-heel PRS properties and empty homes
Reform the land market, based on recommendations from the Letwin Review to get homes built out faster and to ‘capture’ land value for social benefit
Enable Councils to take back control over Permitted Development Rights
Replace the unaffordable ‘Affordable Rent’ model with more social renting (based on rents at a third of household net incomes of the intended occupiers)
Make discounted ‘First Homes’ additional to, not replacements for, planning gain obligations for affordable renting – thereby preventing a reduction in the most urgently needed homes
Reform and extend Help to Buy to existing properties, targeted at helping lower income FTBs
Give Councils full discretion over Right to Buy discount levels and the opportunity to recycle 100% of sales proceeds into new social rented homes
Strengthen the safety net for renters who struggle with housing costs, including reviewing eviction protection, sustaining changes to local housing allowances and reforming Universal Credit
Cap annual rent increases in the PRS to an index of income growth for a fixed period (as proposed in Scotland), alongside ending Section 21 ‘no-fault’ evictions
Protect homeowners by reducing delays before payment of Support with Mortgage Interest and making the SMI a grant not a loan
Set a target to provide affordable housing opportunities for all by 2045, based on a new definition of affordability which relates to incomes not market prices