Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Shapps: affordable rent is here to stay

The housing minister has insisted the affordable rent regime is here to stay, despite accusations that it is unsustainable.

In a briefing ahead of his appearance at the Chartered Institute of Housing conference and exhibition this afternoon, Grant Shapps said affordable rent is a ‘long-term model’.

‘I don’t think the system is going to go away now,’ he said. ‘I think affordable rent, regardless of which political party is in power, will be a feature of the housing system.’

Earlier in the week outgoing CIH president Paddy Gray told the conference the government’s housing reforms are ‘flawed and unsustainable’.

Under affordable rent landlords will be able to charge rents at up to 80 per cent of market level, to fund more development. The Homes and Communities Agency is currently negotiating with landlords who have bid for funding through the scheme, which is intended to deliver 150,000 homes by 2015.

Mr Shapps said there have been more than 200 bids for funding, with an even geographical spread. ‘We are pretty confident that we should be able to get 150,000 plus affordable rent homes out of it,’ he said.

Mr Shapps was also questioned about the impact that paying benefits to cover housing costs to tenants rather than landlords could have on the attractiveness of the housing association sector to lenders, a subject covered by his ministerial colleague Lord Freud at the conference yesterday.

The housing minister said the government is well aware of the potential impact on housing association finances. ‘We have no intention of ending up with a system where landlords lose out,’ he said. ‘Quite the opposite. We want to see a system that has much more flexibility.’

Mr Shapps is not expected to give a speech at the conference, but will be responding to questions. The key theme of his appearance is expected to be transparency, with the announcement of a consultation on making housing associations subject to the freedom on information act, and a focus on the pay of senior executives in the sector.

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