Increased demand for Affordable Housing in 2023 across the UK

If you recall the government’s 2019 election manifestos, all the main parties committed to boost housing supply in England.

The Conservative manifesto, in fact, pledged that the number of homes being built will continue to increase, targeting at least 300,000 affordable homes by the middle of 2020.

As of late December, 2022, the government’s programme to build affordable homes across England has missed its mark by 32,000 homes.

Why the government is having difficult keeping pace with affordable housing demand

One major reason for the affordable homes programme to risk falling further behind is the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities’ lack of grasp on the risks that lie ahead, including the ever-increasing construction inflation. Plus, a new below-inflation cap on the increase of social rent may also limit new building.

The government’s affordable housing programme in 2016 managed to successfully deliver 241,000 of the intended 250,000 homes. Furthermore, in 2021’s programme, 157,000 homes were delivered against a target of 180,000. Around 1.2m households have been put on hold for social housing lists in England – the highest since 2016 – amid the rising safety concerns after a two-year old died due to mould manifestation in a Rochdale social housing property.

On a side note, late last year, the housing ombudsman slammed a social landlord with a fine of £5,000m ordering him to pay the tenant after coming across reports of mould handling, which resulted in multiple failures to conduct repairs over a two-year period.

David Renard, London’s housing spokesperson for the Local Government Association, has stated that the current social housing supply is simply not enough to comply with the current housing demand – he added that long-term plans are direly needed to empower councils to build at least 100,000 climate-friendly social homes each year.

The spokesperson for Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities stated that the secretary of state is in agreement with the committee to build more affordable homes for social rent, adding that increasing the total number of affordable homes is the key to his levelling up mission, and that the Department is investing £11.5b to build the quality and affordable homes desperately needed across the UK.

How much housing is needed to meet the current demand?

That is a difficult question to answer because we can’t attach a precise number to it at the moment. With the growing population, the demand for new and affordable housing is not going to slow down. Plus, many people are living in unsuitable accommodation, where the cost or affordability factor is preventing people from living in the kind of homes that can be regarded as safe, sustainable, and hygienic.

One estimate by the NHF (National Housing Federation) puts this number at approximately 340,000 new homes per year in England, out of which 145,000 should be affordable.

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