Blow to Preston people getting on housing ladder

Big drop in number of affordable homes being built in city

Wednesday, 30th June 2021, 12:30 pm

Building work on affordable homes in Preston plunged to its lowest level in years as the pandemic was blamed for a slowdown in schemes across England

Homes England data shows building started or was completed on 397 affordable homes in Preston in 2020-21 – the lowest in four years.

This was 34 fewer than the year before and eight fewer than 2017-18.

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Building work on affordable homes in Preston plunges to lowest level in years

Homes England is sponsored by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to fund new affordable housing schemes.

Of the schemes progressing in the area in the year to March, 155 affordable homes were completed, including 126 affordable rentals, two social rentals and 23 affordable ownership homes.

Across England, 28,191 affordable homes were started in 2020-21 – 21 per cent fewer than the previous year.

The proportion of affordable homes completed also dropped by 15 per cent, to 24,023.

Housing charity Shelter says with over a million households on the waiting list for a social home, any drop in affordable house building was a big problem.

Polly Neate, the charity's chief executive, said: "If this slowdown continues because developers lose confidence, the dream of a safe and secure future gets even further out of reach for many.

"This just shows that we can’t only rely on private developers to build the housing we need – the Government needs to pull its weight and start building homes itself too.

"By investing in a new generation of social housing, it could provide families with genuinely affordable homes while also supporting the construction industry and boosting the economy.”

PricedOut, a campaign group for affordable house prices, says it wants to see the Government press ahead with the reforms proposed in last year's planning white paper to boost supply.

Reuben Young, affordable homes lead, said: "The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a huge drop in new housing supply, and because the supply of affordable homes closely tracks the supply of market homes, this has meant fewer affordable homes too.

"We need to make sure this is just a blip rather than a precedent."

Peter Freeman, Homes England chairman, said he was confident the housing sector would recover, thanks also to a new £12 billion Government-backed scheme to develop affordable housing.

He added: “The statistics show that we’ve kept making homes happen despite the huge impact of Covid-19 on the housing industry.

“We know there are still hurdles to overcome but we’re encouraged by recent data to suggest the sector is recovering well.