Updates on the Chancellor's financial statement and the Affordable Homes Programme

08 July 2020

Today’s financial statement was not designed to be as comprehensive as previous spring or autumn budgets. Its aim was to introduce an emergency package of measures in response to the coronavirus crisis. However, there were some important announcements relevant to housing associations, including:

  • A £2bn Green Homes Grant, which includes vouchers of up to £5,000 per household for partial retrofitting costs that homeowners and landlords can apply for. We understand officials are still working on the design of this scheme, and will provide further clarity on eligibility shortly.
  • A £50m pilot on the decarbonisation of social housing. This will be available in 2020/21, and follow the model of the former Whole House Retrofit competition. We expect this to inform the design of the larger Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund announced in the Conservative Manifesto – £3.8bn funding over ten years – and we look forward to working with the government to inform both the pilot and next steps.
  • A comprehensive package of support for young people and others facing unemployment. This includes a £2bn ‘kickstart scheme’, which will pay employers to create new jobs for young people at risk of unemployment, and a boost in funding for worksearch, skills and apprenticeships. We’re pleased to see these announcements – the government has listened to what works on employment support, and this funding will make a real difference to people’s lives.

We have published our public response to today’s announcements

The current Shared Ownership and Affordable Homes Programme (SOAHP)

On Monday, the government announced that the current SOAHP deadline is extended until March 2023. 

We have been making the case strongly for flexibility over timing for the existing schemes. We are delighted that this has been heard, and that the government has agreed to allow more time for schemes to complete.

We’ll continue to make the case for flexibility in the short term, including funding to be able to change tenures where this will help us to keep developing, and for an ambitious new long-term vision for social housebuilding, as part of our Homes at the Heart campaign.

The new AHP

Last week, the government announced that the new AHP will total £12.2bn of grant funding from 2021/22 across England. We have summarised the details of this announcement, which includes information about a new 1,500 pilot of First Homes.

Following an immediate discussion with the Housing Minister, we have had confirmation that the funding will be available over five years, not eight years as previously announced.

Over the last few weeks we’ve been engaging extensively with the government about the AHP, and are pleased that this has resulted in immediate clarity on vital future funding for the sector.

Right to Shared Ownership as part of the new AHP

The government has announced its intention to introduce a Right to Shared Ownership (RtSO), as a condition of grant, under the new AHP. It would apply to new homes with a minimum first tranche of 10%.

We know there are mixed views across our membership on how significant the RtSO could be, and we are concerned that the long-term impact may only become clear further down the line. In particular, we think the loss of social housing and a potential impact on security values are significant issues that need to be carefully considered.

We will continue to engage constructively with the government on this to establish how the policy could work in a way that will minimise the potential impact on supply and development if it is introduced. However, we think it is right that we continue to point out the risks of introducing the policy at this stage, which could make it harder for us to build new homes at a time when this is more crucial than ever.

We will continue to engage with government officials as the above announcements develop. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.