RICS: clarity needed on post-2015 funding
The £1.8 billion affordable homes programme is ‘not a long-term solution’ to the escalating housing crisis, according to a new report.
A wide-ranging review of housing policies by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors called on the government to reveal what the funding model for affordable housing will look like following the end of the 2011/15 programme.
The report, published last week, claimed that an ‘over-reliance’ on borrowing against assets would leave housing associations unable to raise more money after 2015.
RICS also said social landlords should be allowed greater flexibility over setting rents on a local basis as part of the current model. The £1.8 billion programme allows landlords to charge up to 80 per cent of market rent for affordable homes, although rent levels for individual projects are reached in agreement with local authorities, which can veto rents deemed to be too high.
The report said that the government should consider allowing providers to set rents within pre-agreed boundaries set by local authorities. It claimed that allowing landlords greater freedom ‘would create homes that meet the needs of the community’.
The report also called on the establishment of a cross-departmental group to look at how affordable housing is funded. It said there was ‘a disconnect’ between capital funding from the Communities and Local Government department and the housing benefit bill footed by the Department for Work and Pensions.
Away from affordable housing, RICS suggested a range of measures to improve the provision of housing.
These included extending the government’s mortgage indemnity scheme for new build housing to the rest of the market, the encouragement of more build to rent housing through the use of section 106 agreements, and wholesale reform of the stamp duty system.
RICS also called for a ‘long-term nationwide strategy’ for the release of public land.