The affordable rent programme is not sustainable in the longer term, as homes provided under the programme will not be affordable in many areas of the country and moreover are unsustainable for many providers in terms of their financing assumptions and business plans. Initial modelling of the potential outcome of the new and proposed funding regimes – the termination of direct funding for social rented homes, the new affordable rent programme, the increased rent income generated by the affordable rent programme (including conversions of existing social rented stock), use of the New Homes Bonus and the introduction of self financing Housing Revenue Accounts, demonstrates that the potential affordable housing output will be substantially lower than both past output and assessed requirements. This position will be worsened by any extension of Right to Buy discounts or eligibility, for example sales to households on waiting lists.
Any Government has to recognise that for housing to be affordable to lower income households, and in high value areas to most middle income households, some form of subsidy, whether through direct grant and/or land subsidy is essential. For social rented homes, subsidy should meet the cost of development less the debt supported by the long term rental stream based on target rents. One option is to introduce a funding mechanism similar to the previous total cost indicator (TCI) based grant regime which was the basis of the highly successful and cost effective mixed funding regime which operated through most of the late 1980’s and 1990’s. This would need to ensure that cost assumptions and grant rates were kept up to date to reflect both local variations and market changes to avoid cost over value provision. A funding regime for affordable housing which is dependent on using up a low cost landbank, using rent increases on existing stock from a limited flow of relets and receipts and planning obligations from a volatile housing and property market is by definition unsound and unsustainable.