Nearly £900m allocated to boost affordable house building is announced as the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) earmarks £886 million for 160 housing providers across England. The HCA said a to...

Nearly £900m allocated to boost affordable house building is announced as the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) earmarks £886 million for 160 housing providers across England. The HCA said a total of 43,821 new affordable homes will be delivered across 2,697 schemes by March 2018.

The initial allocations have been made under the HCA's 2015-18 Affordable Homes Programme, following a competitive bidding process for £1.7 billion of funding. They are the result of rigorous assessment, based on fit with local priorities, value for money and deliverability. Allocations have been discussed with the relevant local council to align investment with local priorities for their area.

The funding comprises just over half of the total £1.7bn of funding available. The remaining funding will be made available for providers to bid into the HCA in due course via Continuous Market Engagement (CME), as planned, in order to allow housing providers further opportunities to work up firm schemes for future delivery during the 2015-18 period. This will include specialist, supported or rural housing, which can often require a longer lead time.

HCA chief executive Andy Rose said: “We have set in place a solid delivery programme that will ensure a smooth transition from our current Affordable Homes Programme, and that delivery can start promptly.

The allocations are closely aligned with locally identified priorities and offer value for money and increased certainty of delivery, with over 75 per cent of the homes we are funding on firm schemes.

Just over half of the available funding has been allocated. The remaining funding will be allocated on a Continuous Market Engagement basis, giving even more partners time to work up deliverable bids to meet local needs and their future development aspirations.

This is a strong foundation that we are putting in place today, which puts us on track to make a significant contribution towards government's aspirations for up to 165,000 new affordable homes by March 2018, while supporting overall housing supply and local economic growth.”

New Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said housebuilding is “an essential part” of the Government's long-term economic plan.

He added: “That's why we have designed an ambitious new scheme to build affordable homes at the fastest rate for 20 years, which will support 165,000 jobs in construction and sustain thousands of small businesses.

Our programme will use the latest construction technology to deliver high-quality homes, helping to transform the way we build in Britain, and providing homes where future generations will want to live and raise families of their own.”

Rachel Fisher, head of policy at the National Housing Federation, is delighted that so many housing associations are taking advantage of the funding to build new homes but warned that since they are social businesses, they can only use funding if the terms and conditions are right for them.

Rachel said: “It is important to remember that many also build new affordable homes outside of the HCA grant funding programme. Housing associations are providing homes at a range of prices including homes for lower, social rent prices, which are genuinely affordable for people on lower incomes. However the Government requires that all homes developed under the HCA programme are to be let at Affordable Rents which can be up to 80 per cent of the market price, which can be unaffordable to some tenants.

The news that more local councils, including major cities like Manchester and Leeds, have received funding allocations in this round is also really positive. Given the scale of the housing crisis, these cities desperately need this extra boost to tackle the housing crisis.”