Affordable housing completions up but social homes fall, latest MHCLG stats reveal

Affordable housing completions across England hit a four-year high in 2018/19 although the delivery of social rented homes declined in the past year, the latest government figures have revealed.

The MHCLG offices in central London
The MHCLG offices in central London

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s (MHCLG's) latest figures on affordable housing supply, published last week, show that a total of 57,485 affordable homes were completed in 2018/19.

This represents a jump of more than one fifth (22 per cent) on the 47,124 affordable homes built in 2017/18.

And it is the highest figure for affordable housing provision since 2014/15, the last full year of the coalition government, when it reached 65,959 units.

The total number of affordable housing starts on site was also up from 40,431 in 2017/18 to 45,098 in 2019/19.

The statistics cover the affordable rent, "London Affordable Rent", social rent, shared ownership, intermediate rent and affordable home ownership tenures.

The biggest chunk of low cost housing delivery last year was affordable rent, the tenure introduced by the coalition government that is set at 80 per cent of local market rents. This saw an increase from 26,981 homes in 2017/18 to 29,135 last year.

Starts on site for affordable rent properties were slightly down from 19,951 to 19,489 as several large housing associations have begun to focus on cheaper options for tenants, the MHCLG release says. 

But the biggest jump was provision of shared ownership homes, which increased by more than a half from 11,084 to 17,024 over the same period.

Also contributing to the rise was a tenfold increase in London Affordable Rent (LAR) provision, available only to tenants in the capital and intended by the mayor of London to be closer to cheaper social rent rather than affordable rent, from 103 to 1,002.

Starts on site of LAR properties increased threefold from 2,814 in 2017/18 to 3,991 in 2018/19.

The figures also show that the provision of affordable home ownership properties, which covers all shared ownership properties not subsidised by housing agency Homes England or the Greater London Authority, nearly doubled from 1,462 to 2,603.

However, provision of social rented housing dropped from 6,679 to 6,287, which is less than a fifth of the number of such homes being provided a decade ago when this tenure was largely superseded by affordable rent.

Starts on site of social rented housing, which tends to be set at much lower levels than affordable rent, were also down from 1,406 in 2017/18 to 1,231 in 2018/19.

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