Housing minister considers flexible approach to affordable homes funding

4 Oct 16

Housing minister Gavin Barwell has indicated that the government will look to provide greater flexibility in how funding to support affordable homes can be used.

In a speech to a fringe event at the Conservative Party conference hosted by the Hyde Group housing association, Barwell said that he wanted innovation in the sector to boost construction, which would require additional freedoms.

“If you look at the budget I have inherited, the affordable housing budget, it is very weighed towards shared ownership,” he highlighted. “There’s some money for supported housing and a bit of money for rent to buy. But going forward at the moment there isn’t funding in there for affordable rent.”

Although he said that there would be “no giving up” in efforts to help people become homeowners, Barwell said his starting point was that the best way to make housing affordable in the long term was to build the number of homes that we need in this country.

“That is why housing has become less affordable because we haven’t built enough homes. So I just want to have a bit more flexibility in how that affordable housing budget is set out. A lot of people say to me if you allow a bit more flex we could give you more units in total out of the money that you are allocating, so that is certainly something I want to look at.”

Following the announcement of a £3bn housing funding boost at the conference yesterday, Barwell confirmed there would be a housing white paper published in the autumn setting out more details of plans to boost construction.

“There are a whole load of very interesting models. I think the government’s job is to provide some funding there but [also] to encourage people to innovate and come up with different products that suit the different circumstances in different parts of the country to help us get the kind of housing we need.”

This will require all housing providers, including local authorities, to do as much as they can, he stated. “I’m particularly interested in councils in parts of the country where there is an acute need to get involved.”

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