New ‘affordable’ housing definition needed

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) is calling for changes to how ‘affordable’ housing is defined.

The countryside charity has published an analysis demonstrating how low income families living in communities across the countryside could save more than £31 million a year if affordable rent levels were set according to the net income of tenants, rather than market rates.

Rents set at 80 per cent of the standard market rate are currently classified as ‘affordable’, which is still out of reach for many families and those on low incomes. Therefore, CPRE is urging the government to change this definition and set affordable rents at 35 per cent of net income for the lowest income groups unless 80 per cent of market rate is cheaper.

The proposed changes to the definition of affordable could see families living in affordable rented homes across the countryside save more than £600,000 a week in total. The countryside charity highlights the positive impact that such a change would have on families’ ability to live in market towns and villages across the countryside, where the affordability crisis is felt just as acutely as in our big cities.

Lois Lane, campaigns and policy officer at CPRE, said: “The term ‘affordable housing’ has become completely meaningless. Inflated land prices, a rise in private house prices and a failure to build enough social rented homes – in addition to the tens of thousands sold through Right to Buy – have driven rental prices to a point where 80 per cent of market rate is out of reach for so many people.

“The government’s failure to meet the housing needs of low income families has escalated the housing crisis and is fueling inequalities. Basing rent prices on income, rather than the inflated costs of the market, is a fair and logical solution that will help people across the country find homes they can actually afford to live in.”