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Social housing completions drop by a fifth

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The number of homes for social rent built last year dropped by a fifth, despite a slight increase in the total number of affordable properties completed over the same period.

Figures published today by the Department for Communities & Local Government show just 5,380 homes for social rent were built in 2016-17. That is down from 6,800 in 2015-16, equivalent to a 21% reduction.

The total number of socially rented homes completed in 2010-11 was 39,560.

Affordable housing graph

Affordable housing graph

Looking ahead, there were 49,420 starts on site for affordable housing last year compared to 29,170 in 2015-16. Of these, 4,780 were for socially rented homes was an increase of more than 403% on 2015-16’s figure of just 950 starts.

Based on the government’s wider definition of ‘affordable’, 41,530 properties were built last year – up from 32,630 in 2015-16. That represents an increase of 27%.

Of the different types of homes that fall into the broader definition of affordable housing, homes for ‘affordable rent’, which can be priced up to 80% of the local market rent value, accounted for the biggest increase in absolute terms.

In 2015-16, 16,550 affordable rent properties were built whereas 24,350 were completed last year. However that figure is far less than the 40,830 built in 2014-15.

Chartered Institute of Housing head of policy Melanie Rees said while it was “encouraging to see” an increase in the total number of affordable homes being delivered she added “very few” are for social rent - homes which she said are “significantly cheaper than market rent and the only truly affordable option for many people on lower incomes”. 

She added: “We desperately need more genuinely affordable homes to tackle our national housing crisis and address rising levels of homelessness.” 

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