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  6. New affordable homes regime announced

New affordable homes regime announced

The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) has published the details of its new Affordable Homes Programme of investment, and invited Registered Providers to put forward proposals for £2.2bn of funding (out of the overall £4.5bn funding pot) for affordable housing during the 2011-15 Spending Review period.

The details are set out in a Framework document, co-produced with the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), which sets out a step-by-step guide for providers who wish to apply, working alongside their local authority partners.

 It outlines the changes in affordable housing provision being introduced for 2011-15, and how this new approach will meet the Government’s ambition to deliver up to 150,000 new homes over the next four years.

The new arrangements include the concept of “affordable rent” which is set to become an element in the affordable planning regime. This will require changes to current guidance as set out in Planning Policy Statement (PPS) 3 - Affordable housing. This is now out for consultation until 11 April 2011.

The Framework makes clear that proposals must meet local priorities, with pro-active discussions between local authorities and providers key to success. The HCA - through its enabling role - will act as a bridge between local authorities and providers to help deliver homes in line with local needs.

Any provider, offering value-for-money, can submit proposals. Existing consortium arrangements are expected to be maintained or expanded and larger providers are particularly encouraged to work with smaller, rural, specialist (e.g. supported housing) or community-based organisations in order to reflect local need.

Significantly, the way in which funding will now be allocated has changed. Unlike the previous funding model, providers are now being invited to submit proposals for delivery of affordable housing to the HCA for the entire four year period which will be managed through a flexible approach.

Pat Ritchie, chief executive of the HCA, said: “This new approach gives increased flexibilities for local authorities and providers to plan ahead and deliver much-needed affordable homes. At a time when funding is tight, this new way of operating will allow us to do more with less resources, but it will rely heavily on effective working partnerships, which is where the HCA will play a significant part.”

Housing Minister Grant Shapps said: “With some 4.5m people on social housing waiting lists, it’s clear that not only do we need more homes, but we also need a complete overhaul of the system, to one that offers much more flexibility than the current ‘one size fits all’ approach.

Additionally, the document outlines how the HCA will assess the bids, and how programme management will operate under the mode.

Access the PPS 3 consultation

Download the Framework from the HCA website.

Roger Milne

17 February 2011