Editor: Having access to affordable housing is a springboard for life’s milestones. Yet, as the cost-of-living crisis continues, access to affordable housing remains a growing challenge: a goal that previously ranked high in government objectives with the introduction of Right to Buy.
According to the Chartered Institute of Housing’s most recent Housing Review, the Right to Buy scheme hasn’t delivered on its aims. A process established to enable council house dwellers to buy their property at a discount is beginning to look like any other corporate operation with around 40% of homes now rented out privately.
The number of social rent homes being built versus the number being sold or demolished has led to an overall loss of 135,131 social homes. This shift in ownership has driven up housing costs and put pressure on waiting lists.
The continued crisis coupled with the unambitious Spring Statement demonstrates how crucial a time it is for a robust process that genuinely creates access to affordable housing so people have more chance of being able to meet their everyday living costs.
In the financial crisis we’re facing, the housing sector is stepping up, with housing associations in particular committing to building social rent homes. Last year, VIVID built 226 social rent houses, placing it in the top 10 builders of affordable homes.
With pressure to improve green credentials, housing associations that are more financially exposed are finding it harder to invest in new social housing. This stunt in development activity is already leading to fewer affordable homes being built.
Even with its criticisms, the Right to Buy is not likely to go away and it is probably too complex for reform. Housing associations are therefore in the unique position to help communities navigate these challenging times and ensure social inequalities do not intensify.
For development to pick up pace to help meet the shortage of affordable homes, it’s vital the government steps up and partners with housing associations to deliver these homes.
Mark Perry, chief executive, VIVID