Homes specifically for social rent at risk of being eliminated

The Local Government Association has warned that homes specifically for social rent are at risk of being eliminated after a revision to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) dropped the reference to ‘social rent’ homes from the government’s definition of affordable homes.

Therefore, the council leader association says that the definition of ‘affordable housing’ must include homes for social rent in forthcoming government changes to planning policy as part of a wider push to tackle the historic low numbers of social rented homes across the country.

While ‘social rent’ homes have been dropped, Starter Homes and other, less genuinely affordable, forms of housing have been included in the NPPF revisions. Only 2.48 per cent of homes built in 2016/7 were designated for social rent – down from 3.59 per cent of all homes built the year previously. All forms of affordable housing fell to 19 per cent of new homes in 2016/17, the second-lowest figure ever recorded.

The LGA is urging the government to drop proposed amendments to the NPPF to ensure homes for social rent remain part of planning policy and to supply a long-term strategy to deliver genuinely affordable housing in the upcoming Social Housing Green Paper, as well as seeking assurance that the government will consider plans for councils to borrow to build to deliver new homes, keep 100 per cent of receipts of homes sold under Right to Buy and adapt discounts locally, and powers to ensure all developments contribute to the provision of affordable housing.

Judith Blake, LGA Housing spokesman, said: “Councils are determined to ensure their residents have access to affordable housing. By removing social rent from the definition of affordable housing, the government has effectively removed the tool to help that happen. It’s essential that homes of all types and tenure are available so that local communities can deliver a balance of housing to meet a mix of needs. Homes for social rent can prevent people from spiralling into social housing, and alongside starter homes and new builds, play an important role in a thriving housing market. Tackling our national housing shortage is rightly a priority for the government – it’s essential they put in place measures that would help, rather than hinder this, at the local level.”