Last Friday, saw the National Housing Federation deliver their Budget 2014 submission to the government. In it, they called on the government to lift “the key barriers that prevent housing associations from delivering the affordable homes this country needs.” In this blog, we take a look at what the Federation is calling for.
The National Housing Federation supports and promotes the work done by housing associations throughout the UK. Currently, its members provide homes for 11% of the population and the Federation is keen to see affordable housing spread throughout the UK.
The Federation’s recommendations to the government in their Budget 2014 submission are targeted at providing more affordable housing across the country. Currently the government has promised £3.3bn for affordable housing over the next 3 years, and the Federation want to see this used effectively.
The NHF put forward three key areas, which they felt could help to make an impact on affordable housing.
More Land for Affordable Homes
Currently, land is made available for building through the Strategic Land and Property Review. The NHF are calling on government at all levels, to make themselves familiar with the review to ensure that the land for building affordable housing is made available in “a timely and coordinated way.”
In addition to this, the NHF want to see a streamlining of the Homes and Communities Agency in order to “drive forward (a) new housing supply more quickly and effectively.”
The Federation also wants to see a review on Best Consideration policy. Currently, land that could be ideal for housing is being sold off to the highest bidders by local authorities. The Federation wants to see better government guidance, so that local authorities can be made aware of the returns they could get from affordable housing.
Lift the Barriers on Housing Associations Delivering More Homes
With housing associations currently building around 40,000 new homes a year, the National Housing Federation believes they could be doing a lot more. Many housing associations are limited because of the amount of money they can borrow to finance their development.
The Federation calls for the Government to amend restrictions on the way “certain housing stock is valued to increase housing associations’ capacity to fund new homes.”
The NHF argues that if housing associations were able to value their stock at a higher price, then this would release additional borrowing capacity for the development of affordable housing.
Increase Housing Associations’ Access to Finance for New Developments
The government currently run an affordable homes guarantee programme, which has succeeded in providing a welcome boost to housing associations looking to deliver more homes. But, the guarantee programme is only available to those wishing to access new finance, and is only open to schemes that start in 2015.
The NHF wants to see the scheme extended to go beyond 2017, and see the regulations of these guarantees altered so that housing associations are able to use the guarantees to refinance their existing debt.
The NHF plan to send their recommendations to the Treasury and will be pressing politicians and advisors from both parties to implement these proposals.