New fund for 1,200 affordable homes unveiled

New fund for 1,200 affordable homes unveiled

By Nicky Burridge

The homes are designed to benefit people who would otherwise struggle to afford housing locally and communities will be put in charge of deciding how and where the properties will be built.

More than 1,200 new affordable homes are set to be built across England as part of a government initiative to put communities in the driving seat.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has unveiled a £4 million Community Housing Fund to help community groups design and build properties in their local area.

The fund will cover costs ranging from searches, planning applications and design fees, to renting a town hall for a public meeting.

Once planning permission has been granted, community groups can apply for funding to build the properties through the government’s Affordable Homes Programme, a Housing Association, a developer or a bank loan. 

Housing Minister Stuart Andrew said: “Community led housing is a great way to ensure local housing needs are met by putting local people in the driving seat.

“It is about residents playing a leading and lasting role creating genuinely affordable homes which regenerate and restore pride in communities.”

Why is this happening?

The programme is part of the government’s drive to level up the country through regenerating derelict areas and delivering homes that local people can afford.

The new properties will be part of a locally-based organisation, such as a land trust or housing co-operative, meaning they will stay under the control of the community.

The government also believes that community-led housing helps to improve the design and construction quality of homes, as well as creating opportunities for smaller house builders to work on projects, which in turn boosts the local economy.

Who does it affect?

The fund will be used to deliver 52 housing projects in England from Cornwall to Berwick-upon-Tweed.

They will benefit people who would otherwise struggle to afford housing locally, while ensuring the new properties meet the needs of the community and are in keeping with it.

In Bradford, 62 supported homes are being built for people with autism, learning disabilities or dementia, while in Leeds 34 affordable properties are being constructed to help regenerate a deprived area of the city.

What’s the background?

Affordable homes is just one of a number of government schemes to help people purchase a property.

Its flagship initiative is the Help to Buy equity loan scheme, under which first-time buyers can purchase a new-build property with a 5% deposit. The government tops this up with a 20% equity loan that’s interest-free for five years.

Another scheme is First Homes, under which first-time buyers, key workers and local people, can purchase a home at a 30% discount to its market price.

Meanwhile the 95% mortgage guarantee scheme helps buyers to get a mortgage with just a 5% deposit.

There is also help for people saving for a deposit. First-time buyers can take out a Lifetime ISA, where they can save £4,000 a year and the government adds a 25% bonus, up to a maximum of £1,000 annually.

The money must be used to either purchase a first home or for retirement.