Less than 3% of homes to be built on public land to be released for social rent

ONLY 2.6% of the 131,000 homes announced to be built on public land released by the government will be for social rent, according to the New Economics Foundation (NEF).

The think tank released the analysis based on the government’s own Public Land for Housing programme earlier this month.

Only around 20,000 of over 130,000 new homes planned for sites released under the programme are expected to be affordable.

The programme is a key element of the government’s housing ambitions with the aim of releasing enough public-sector land for 160,000 homes by the end of March this year.

But latest MHCLG data shows the programme has missed its sell off target.

NEF’s analysis of the figures also reveal that only 15% of homes built on public land will be classified as ‘affordable housing’.

According to reports, the government does not have data on what kind of affordable housing the majority of this is.

“Since the government changed the definition of ‘affordable’ to include homes rented at 80% market rates, social rent is widely understood to be the only housing genuinely affordable to people on low incomes”, the report stated.

“Such affordable housing also includes ‘shared ownership’ homes, which in London are accessible to those earning up to £80,000 per year”, it added.

The NEF has previously estimated that only 6% of homes built on public land sold by the government were for social rent, based on analysis of planning documents.

It pitched the case for a new Public Land and Housing Corporation (PLHC) – using public and private land strategically to deliver the next generation of zero-carbon social homes, delivering 50,000 homes a year itself.

Hannah Wheatley, NEF’s Senior Researcher said: “Ostensibly, the aim of the [government] programme was to help solve the housing crisis.

“But the government has shown scant interest in the types of homes being built. Solving the housing crisis requires building millions of new homes, but the crux of the crisis is in the affordability of the homes.

“What sort of housing and for whom is as important a question as how many homes are built. In most places, providing truly affordable housing means that building social housing should be top priority.”

She added: “The availability and price of land is at the heart of the housing affordability crisis — the more we sell off public land to build luxury apartments, the worse the housing crisis gets.

“With the land it owns, government could have helped fix this by delivering a much higher proportion of genuinely affordable housing.

“But it has not and what the release of data therefore shows is a key opportunity slipping through our fingers.”

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