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Jenrick Acts to Safeguard Affordable Homes

A scheme which will help get more families in England into affordable housing has been extended by a year, UK Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced on Monday 6 July 2020.

Due to unavoidable delays in the construction industry caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, it has been estimated that 53,000 new affordable homes that were set to be built have now been delayed. The UK Government are now stepping in to ensure that funding is safeguarded and to make sure these much-needed homes are not lost altogether. This means this Affordable Homes Programme will now be extended until March 2023.

Homes that are to be built under the Government’s £9 billion scheme originally needed ground to be broken by March 2020, but Mr Jenrick’s announcement means that housing associations and councils will have an extra year to begin building these homes, whilst still receiving Government support. This gives them flexibility and the certainty they need to keep building going across the country.

This announcement follows confirmation last week that the new £12 billion Affordable Homes Programme, which is set to start next year (2021), will now support up to 180,000 new affordable homes, including shared ownership and social rent. The programme will lead to a further £38 billion in public and private investment in affordable housing.

Housing Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said: “I am announcing that we are giving more flexibility to housing associations and councils to help them deliver affordable homes. We’ve listed closely to the sector and agreed tat there will now be a longer deadline for using Government funding to get these homes built.

“Building the homes the country needs is central to the mission of this Government as we priorities uniting and levelling up the country.”

Over 1.5 million new homes have been delivered thank to the scheme so far, including more than 460,000 affordable homes.  The latest announcement follows a package of measures to support house building across England, including:

  • An ambition for the Affordable Homes Programme to fund a 1,500-unit pilot of ‘First Homes’: homes that will prioritised for local first-time buyers and key workers at a 30% discount. The discount will be locked in to the property in perpetuity, keeping them affordable for generations of families to own.
  • Allocating £360 million of funding from the £400 million Brownfield Land Fund to the West Midland, Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, Liverpool City Region, Sheffield City Region, North of Tyne and Tees Valley to support around 24,000 homes.
  • Helping smaller developers to access finance for new housing developments by boosting the Home Building Fund with an additional £450 million of investment. This is expected to support delivery of around 7,200 new homes.
  • Reforming the planning system to kick start the construction industry, speed up rebuilding and make easier to build better homes where people want to live. This includes making it easier to repurpose more commercial premises without requiring a planning application, builders no longer needing a planning application to demolish and rebuild unused buildings if they are rebuilt as homes, and property owners being able to build additional space above their properties through a fast track approval process.
  • A new, ambitious cross-government strategy, to be published ahead of the Spending Review, looking at how public sector land can be managed and released so it can be put to better use. This would include measures for home building and improving the environment.

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