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ARCH annual report

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The ARCH annual report for 2015-16 is now available to view.

 

Download it here.

Homes England publish a new Strategic Plan 22/11/2018 Labelled as Development, Scrutiny

As announced in the 2018 Budget, Homes England has published a new Strategic Plan covering the period 2018/19 - 2022/23, including plans to double in size over the next 18 months.

 

Homes England's new Plan, the first since its creation as a replacement for the Homes & Communities Agency, describes the agency's mission over the period as "to intervene in the market to ensure more homes are built in areas of the greatest need, to improve affordability … [and] … make this sustainable by creating a more resilient and diverse housing market"

 

The Plan includes six strategic objectives:

 

  1. To unlock public and private land where the market will not, to get more homes built where they are needed, using a £1.3 billion Land Assembly Fund.
  2. To ensure a range of investment products are available to support house-building and infrastructure, including more affordable housing and homes for rent, where the market is not acting. These include the continuing Shared Ownership and Affordable Homes Programme and other programmes, providing grant support for registered providers, and the provision of development finance for small builders unable to access commercial finance.
  3. To improve construction productivity. This will be primarily achieved by promoting Modern Methods of Construction.
  4. To create a more resilient and competitive market by supporting smaller builders and new entrants and promoting better design and higher quality homes.
  5. To offer expert support for priority locations, helping to create and deliver more ambitious plans to get more homes built.  Priority areas seem to be those where housing is most unaffordable, or "areas with ambition, potential for growth and a clear plan." Planned support is concentrated in the South and East.
  6. To effectively deliver home ownership products, providing an industry standard service to consumers. This includes administration of the Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme, the Shared Ownership and Affordable Homes Programme, and the Voluntary Right to Buy pilot for housing association tenants in the West Midlands.

 

Longer-term priorities set out in the Plan include delivery of at least 130,000 affordable housing by March 2022, through the government's Shared Ownership and Affordable Housing Programmes, including at least 12,500 homes for social rent in areas where homes are least affordable.

 

ARCH comments on the plan:

 

Homes England's new Strategic Plan leaves no doubt that the agency intends to play a bigger and more active role in helping ensure the Government reaches its target of 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s. However, in line with the general thrust of Government policy, the Plan focuses heavily on homes for sale and shared ownership.

 

Of the 130,000 affordable home starts it aims to deliver by March 2022, it is disappointing that less than 10% (just 12,500) will be for social rent, this despite the fact that the main focus of Homes England intervention will be in areas of the South and East where the gap between social and market rents is highest.

 

Nowhere in the plan are local authorities specifically mentioned as providers of housing and the Plan was probably finalised too soon to consider the potential impact of the abolition of HRA borrowing caps announced in the Chancellor's 2018 Budget and the recognition of local authorities' role in house-building and provision of the Prime Minister's vision of a "new generation of council homes".

 

ARCH Policy Adviser Matthew Warburton has produced a more detailed ARCH Policy Briefing on the Plan for ARCH members and a copy of the Plan can be downloaded from the Homes England website.

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