28 Feb 2022
England is facing a chronic undersupply of affordable housing, which will persist without a major increase in capital funding for the sector. L&G and the BPF’s analysis puts the amount of additional capital funding needed to meet affordable housing demand at £34 billion per year.
The report, ‘Delivering a step change in affordable housing supply’, examines how the supply of affordable housing, including social rent, affordable rent, and shared ownership, can be increased to meet the nation’s housing need.
Housing associations, who have driven affordable home delivery along with local authorities and central government, are near to borrowing limits and unable to raise new equity due to their not-for-profit status. The report finds that housing associations are currently delivering c.50,000 new homes a year and are realistically only able to deliver up to 65,000 new homes a year, given their funding structure constraints.
In addition, they are now facing major new financial headwinds due to costs associated with decarbonisation of their existing homes and fire remediation programmes. The NHF has estimated the impact of fire safety repairs for the sector as a whole would equate to a non-recoverable funding cost of over £10bn. Further to this net-zero carbon emissions on all homes must be achieved by 2050. A 2020 survey by Inside Housing estimated the total cost of retrofitting the c. 5 million affordable homes owned by RPs and LAs will be £104bn.
Only new capital injection from institutional investors, combined with an increase in grant levels from Government can overcome the sector’s current financial limitations. To increase affordable housing delivery to 145,000 new homes per year, the research finds that c.£34bn of additional funding will be required each year which will need to be made up of £10bn of equity from investors, the same from the debt markets and up to £14bn from government grant.
Alongside greatly increasing the provision of affordable housing grant, the report specifically calls upon Government to:
Simon Century, Manging Director of Housing at Legal & General: “Our research aims to shine a light on the reality of delivery in the affordable housing sector. The demand for Affordable housing is huge – at best an annual short-fall through time of some 95,000 homes a year. The main existing players – housing associations – can only do so much alone given the huge and increasing demands they face. The only way to overcome the challenges in the years ahead is through a new coming together between all players. Working together, we need to rapidly scale up the amount of long-term institutional investment into the sector, supported by further subsidy from Government. This is the only realistic way to deliver more homes at the scale the country so deeply needs.”
Ian Fletcher, Director of Policy, British Property Federation: “If there is one thing that unites most of the housing sector it is the need for more homes that are affordable. This analysis shows, however, that we cannot hope to meet that need through existing sources of funding alone. There is a funding gap, and if anything, it is getting bigger as other financial pressures increase on the affordable housing sector. We have seen that institutional investment can contribute to increasing affordable housing supply, but there is more that can be done to create the right policy environment to boost all forms of funding.”
The report includes a further set of recommendations for Housing Associations and institutional investors to increase the sector's overall capacity and address pressing societal needs.
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*at 31 Jun 2021