Spring Budget 2020 – key housing announcements

13 March 2020

This week the Chancellor announced a package of important housing measures in the Budget, including:

  • An expanded Affordable Homes Programme committing £12bn over five years.
  • A £1bn building safety fund for removing unsafe cladding.
  • New funding to address rough sleeping.

We have welcomed the government’s commitments, which reflect the sector’s calls for funding certainty, support to remediate unsafe buildings, and action on rough sleeping.

Much of the detail is still to be confirmed, such as the types of tenure the Affordable Homes Programme will fund, how building safety funding will be allocated, and the government’s plans for First Homes and the Right to Shared Ownership.

Here is a summary of the key measures announced and our next steps.

Key announcements

  • The Affordable Homes Programme will receive an additional £9.5bn, creating a new £12.2bn five-year programme from 2021/22. This gives housing associations the certainty we have called for, though the government has not yet confirmed how the funding will be allocated or what tenures it will fund. We’ll continue to make the case for funding homes for social rent as we work with the government to build enough homes for homeless families, as well as helping people into home ownership.
  • A new £1bn Building Safety Fund will be made available to remove all types of combustible cladding from social and private high-rise buildings of 18 metres and above. The funding is additional to the £600m ACM Cladding Remediation Fund and will be targeted particularly towards leaseholders and landlords who cannot afford to remediate buildings. We’re seeking more detail on exactly how this will be allocated.
  • Extra funding for rough sleeping has been announced on top of the recent £236m committed for accommodation for up to 6,000 rough sleepers. The new funding consists of £144m for support services and £262m for substance abuse services.
  • New exemptions from the Shared Accommodation Rate of Local Housing Allowance (LHA) for Universal Credit and Housing Benefit claimants were announced to protect those at risk of homelessness. This will allow rough sleepers aged 16-24, care leavers up to the age of 25, and victims of domestic abuse and human trafficking to get the one-bedroom rate of LHA. It will support people’s recovery from homelessness through improving access to the private rented sector.
  • To help people receiving Universal Credit, from October 2021 deductions (including for rent arrears) will be reduced from a maximum of 30% to 25% and the repayment period for loans will be extended to 24 months.
  • In response to the coronavirus outbreak, the government is temporarily removing the Universal Credit minimum income floor for self-employed people directly affected. They have also relaxed rules on job centre attendance so that anyone infected with Covid-19 or required to self-isolate will not need to undergo a Work Capability Assessment or provide a fit note to claim Employment Support Allowance, or the equivalent under Universal Credit. A £500m Hardship Fund was also announced for local authorities.

Next steps

The NHF will continue to make the case for building new homes for social rent as part of the new programme and ensure the government understands the impact any new proposals would have on housing associations.

We will be reviewing the detail of the funding announcements to understand their impact further, and will provide further updates on our website in due course.