HCA awards £1.4bn for affordable homes

By: Sarah Townsend
Source: www.planningresource.co.uk
Published: 14 July 2011

Housing and regeneration quango the Homes & Communities Agency has announced the recipients of a £1.8 billion package to deliver new affordable homes.

A total of 146 housing associations, local authorities, house builders and other providers will receive a share of the package, which represents the bulk of the £2.2 billion the HCA has available for affordable housing over the next four years.

The £1.8 billion package will help deliver homes through affordable home ownership schemes and the new Affordable Rent model, which was announced in October's Comprehensive Spending Review and will allow housing associations to generate revenue by charging new tenants up to 80 per cent of market rents.

The investment will be split between each of the HCA's six operating areas, with London likely to receive funds for 27 per cent of the total number of homes, subject to contracts. The full list of recipients will be available on the HCA's website later today.

The remaining £450 million will be used separately for other strands of the HCA's affordable homes programme, including the Homelessness Change, Traveller Pitch Funding, Empty Homes and Mortgage Rescue initiatives.

Housing providers were invited in February to bid for a portion of the HCA's affordable homes funding. They were asked to set out their proposals for a four-year programme covering how they will manage their existing assets and capacity alongside HCA funding to "generate significant volumes of new supply".

The HCA expects that around 80,000 new homes will be delivered as a result of the funding awarded today, compared to its initial estimate of 56,000 earlier this year.

HCA chief executive Pat Ritchie said: "Our partners made extremely strong offers. We expect to not only deliver exceptional value for money but also a programme that has a strong fit with local priorities."

The Government is hoping to exceed its ambition to deliver 150,000 new affordable homes by 2015, and claims that up to 170,000 new homes will be delivered in total over that period.

But questions have been raised over whether the Affordable Rent model will work in areas where rental rates are comparatively low, for example outside London.

Richard Hill, the HCA's executive director of programmes and deputy chief executive, said: "When we first launched the programme there was scepticism about whether the model would work in areas of low rental yield.

"But the model is reliant upon a combination of rental uplift, money that [the HCA] puts in as subsidy, and also land that individual providers put forward themselves for development and, judging from the awards made today, I am confident that we have really good coverage across all areas of the country – not just London."