Update on the Affordable Homes Programme

26 August 2020

The government re-confirmed in June that £12.2bn would be available in the next Affordable Homes Programme (AHP) for 2021-26.

We’ve been pressing the government for further details of how this money will be spent and are expecting more clarity on this soon.

Housing associations want to play as full a role as possible in building the homes we need to help communities and the economy recover from the coronavirus crisis.

While we know home ownership is still the government’s top housing priority, and share its ambition to support people from all backgrounds home ownership, we’ve been open with the government about the market and economic uncertainty housing associations face.

To keep building through this uncertainty, and provide the much-needed boost to communities and the economy, we must be able to build homes for affordable and social rent as well as for sale.

Right to Shared Ownership

The government has also been considering introducing a Right to Shared Ownership for social and affordable rented homes.

Housing associations have an excellent track record of delivering shared ownership, but we do not think the current uncertain environment is the best time to introduce this policy, or to make it a condition of grant funding for social housing.

Alongside the government’s proposed planning reforms, which could have their own significant impact on affordable housing delivery, a new Right to Shared Ownership could force housing associations to take difficult decisions about what, and whether, they can build.

We’re concerned the Right to Shared Ownership could affect the sector’s ability to borrow money to build new homes, and there are significant questions about how valuers and lenders would respond if it were applied to new affordable homes. The policy must be robustly tested, looking at these issues as well as how affordable it would be for residents.

We’ve been raising these challenges with ministers and officials as well as feeding in our views on the criteria that should apply to Right to Shared Ownership if it were introduced, such as resident eligibility, properties in scope, and replacement.

Next steps

A range of funding options remain possible for the Affordable Homes Programe and we’re continuing positive and robust discussions with ministers and officials, working to bring about the best possible outcome for social housing and those who would benefit from it.

We have been clear just how much is at stake. The proposed planning reforms, combined with a Right to Shared Ownership or a home ownership-focused Affordable Homes Programme, could have a serious impact on housing associations’ ability to deliver new affordable homes when the nation needs it most.

We believe ministers have heard and understood housing associations’ concerns, and know that we are ready to make these concerns public.