The Homes & Communities Agency has struck an £18m deal with Bovis Homes to buy the housebuilder’s unsold stock to provide more affordable housing.

Through the government’s National Clearing House, Bovis has agreed to sell 379 homes across the country to housing associations for rent or low cost home ownership.

The new deal raises the number of empty homes brought into use as affordable housing up to 4,800, for a total of £160m, with more deals in the pipeline, the government said.

Housing minister Margaret Beckett said: ‘We are determined to support house builders to weather the current difficult climate, and this deal will help industry while also providing more affordable homes for families on waiting lists.

‘This is one part of a range of measures we are taking to help ensure stability and security for those affected by the downturn, and we will continue to look at what more we can do.

The new affordable homes are being made available through the following registered social landlords: Midland Heart Limited, Walsall Housing Group, Derwent Housing Association, Orbit Housing Group, Broadland Housing Association and Sovereign Housing Association.

Chief executive of the Homes & Communities Agency Sir Bob Kerslake said: ‘By being flexible with our funding we have secured more much-needed quality new homes - for affordable rent or sale to local people priced out of the market - and maximised value for public money.

‘And while I am pleased with this early success for the HCA, there is much more to be done as we seek to stimulate development and help maintain the housebuilding industry's capacity through difficult economic conditions.’

Chief executive of Bovis Homes, David Ritchie, said: ‘Bovis Homes has formed a strong relationship with the Homes and Communities Agency and our partner RSLs through combining our mutual interests in housing delivery. The deal reported today has been made possible due to this relationship and demonstrates the positives which can be achieved when different organisations in the housing industry work together effectively.’