Recent surveys from the National Housing Federation (NHF) and the Homes & Communities Agency (HCA) reveal a mixed picture for housing associations in 2017.
On the positive side, the HCA’s survey of the sector for April -June 2017 has revealed that associations are committed to £8.7bn of development spending over the next year – an increase of £900m from the previous year. Translated into housing numbers, with that £8.7bn the housing association sector expects to deliver 24,876 shared ownership homes and 10,608 market sale homes over the next 12 months. This represents a significant increase in delivery from the 15,588 shared ownership homes and 6,978 market sale homes completed over the last 18 months.
However, statistics from the NHF show that increasingly associations are being forced to rely on private funding for their projects, with government grants playing a diminishing role. The Affordable Homes Programme accounted for only 52% of affordable homes completed by housing associations in the first quarter of the new financial year. The NHF figures have also found that associations have started fewer homes this quarter. In the last quarter, they started 9,063 new homes, compared to 15,356 in the previous quarter and 10,444 in the same period last year.
There are also worrying signs for role associations play in the supported housing sector, with associations dropping the number of supported homes they plan to build by 85%. According to the NHF, this dramatic reduction comes from uncertainty over the introduction of the Local Housing Allowance cap. The Government said they would publish a Green Paper on the future of supported housing this spring, but the paper has yet to be unveiled.
David Orr, chief executive of the NHF, said:
“These findings really bring it home: changes to supported housing funding are stopping building for the most vulnerable…With social care in crisis, the role supported housing plays in alleviating pressures on the NHS is ever more important. These changes have not even come in yet and they have taken 7,000 homes for vulnerable people out of the pipeline.
“The proposed changes in funding bear no relation to the real cost of providing this type of housing. It is time government put supported housing on a secure and sustainable footing.”