Bulk of ‘affordable homes programme’ will be for buyers, not renters

Some affordable home ownership schemes are open to people on incomes as high as £90,000

<p>Communities secretary Robert Jenrick at Downing Street</p>

Communities secretary Robert Jenrick at Downing Street

The bulk of the government's new £8.6bn “affordable homes programme” will be directed at helping homebuyers rather than renters, housing secretary Robert Jenrick announced on Tuesday.

Out of the 119,000 new homes being built, 57,000 will be for ownership, and just 29,600 will be for social rent. Meanwhile, 6,250 are set to be rural affordable homes.

Mr  Jenrick said: “Creating more opportunities for homeownership is central to this government. This £9bn funding is a landmark moment for our affordable homes programme and will ensure good quality housing for all as we build back better after the pandemic.

“This huge funding package will make the ambition of owning a home a reality for families by making it realistic and affordable.”

But some so-called "affordable homeownership" schemes have required prospective homeowners to have saved a deposit with a stable income to be considered for a mortgage.

In London, "affordable" shared ownership properties can be open to people earning as much as £90,000, while outside the capital they can be open to people on an £80,000 salary.

The housing secretary added:  “We are also ensuring tens of thousands of new homes for rent are built in the years ahead, including social rent, so those on the lowest incomes can enjoy good quality, secure, rented homes, built and managed by reputable providers.” 

Housing tenure is considered a large predictor of how a person votes, with renters typically supporting Labour and owners backing the Tories.

The government has pledged to build up to 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s but is set to miss this target by a decade. In 2019, UK housebuilding fell to its lowest quarterly rate for three years, and in 2020, housebuilding output dropped by a fifth.

Lib Dem Spokesperson for Housing Tim Farron said: "With social housing waiting lists now over 500,000, this is too little, too late. The Government should be making delivering social housing the main priority, not an afterthought.

"This announcement once again completely overlooks rural communities which are being turned into ghost towns because of excessive second homeownership. From Cornwall to Cumbria, the Government has well and truly turned their back on our rural towns and villages."

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