Pandemic hits affordable home building

Building work on affordable homes in Northumberland plunged as the pandemic was blamed for a slowdown in schemes, according to new figures.

Monday, 28th June 2021, 3:06 pm
Pandemic hits affordable home building
Pandemic hits affordable home building

Homes England data shows building started or was completed on 324 affordable homes in the area in 2020-21 – 199 fewer than the previous year.

The number of schemes was still higher than 2017-18, when 259 homes started being built or were delivered.

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, 133 affordable homes were completed, including 72 affordable rentals, five social rentals and 53 affordable ownership homes.

Nationally, 28,191 affordable homes were started in 2020-21 – 21% down on the previous year.

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 continues because developers lose confidence, the dream of a safe and secure future gets even further out of reach for many.

"We can’t only rely on private developers. The Government needs to pull its weight and start building homes itself too.”

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

He added: “The statistics show that we’ve kept building home despite the huge impact of Covid-19. We know there are still hurdles to overcome but we’re encouraged by recent data suggesting the sector is recovering well.”