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Column 12th September 2018

Checking through the small print to find affordable housing

According to a recent article in the FT, homelessness in the UK has doubled since 2010 and reached a record high this year.

In places like Oxfordshire the very people who help run the services in the community – nurses, teachers, police and firefighters – can’t afford to live there.

The new Social Housing Green Paper released by the Government does little to help.

The strategic plan for the Vale of the White Horse is to have 35% affordable housing on all sites developing more than 10 dwellings with 75% rented (either social or affordable) and 25% intermediate housing (part ownership).

If this is true then out of 22,760 dwellings required to meet the housing need to 2031, nearly 8,000 affordable homes will be built of which 6,000 will be rented. There is no policy for the split between social or affordable rental properties.

Social housing is rental properties let at low rents on a secure basis to those who are most in need or struggling with their housing costs; these are normally provided by councils and not-for-profit organisations (such as housing associations).

Affordable housing includes social rented, affordable rented and intermediate housing (shared ownership, starter homes etc.), provided to specified eligible households whose needs are not met by the market.

The difference between social rented and affordable rented is that the guideline target rents for social housing are determined through the national rent regime while affordable rents are no more than 80% of the local market rent.

There are no ”starter homes” built in the Vale – but then not a single "starter home" (properties sold to first-time buyers at a 20 per cent discount) has yet been built in the whole of the country.

The average number of people on the housing waiting list for the Vale since 2011 is 3,199 although the latest available figures show only 2,318 households (at 1 April 2017).

Over the same period 1,350 new homes have been built in the Vale by housing associations but not all of these homes are for people on the housing waiting list.

There appears to be no way of finding out what the number of social rental properties in the Vale is and how this relates to the number of people waiting to be housed without a very carefully worded freedom of information request, and we know how long that will take and how little information we are likely to receive.


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