UK

Affordable housing loan scheme gets £3bn uplift to build 20,000 new homes

It is one in a string of Government housing announcements this week.

Housing Secretary Michael Gove is also expected to detail planning reforms aimed at boosting housebuilding on inner-city brownfield sites
Building site Housing Secretary Michael Gove is also expected to detail planning reforms aimed at boosting housebuilding on inner-city brownfield sites (Gareth Fuller/PA)

A Government-backed loan fund known as the affordable homes scheme is getting a £3 billion boost, which is expected to deliver 20,000 new homes.

The fund, opening for applications on Monday, aims to give providers, including local authorities, access to lower-cost fixed-rate debt to increase the supply of affordable housing, including homes for social rent, affordable rent and shared ownership.

For the first time, the scheme can also be used to revamp existing properties, including through energy upgrades to make them “warm and decent for tenants”, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said.

Providers can apply for loans to expand their business and pay for building safety work, such as removing dangerous cladding.

Housing minister Lee Rowley said: “We know getting cost-effective loans can be a stumbling block for many developers building more affordable homes or upgrading their existing stock, so it is of the quality tenants deserve.

“This new round opening today will not only improve the lives of those already living in homes, but help thousands of families benefit from new, high-quality, affordable housing.”

The uplift, bringing the fund to £6 billion, is among a string of Government housing announcements this week.

Housing Secretary Michael Gove is also expected to detail planning reforms aimed at boosting housebuilding on inner-city brownfield sites, building on the long-term plan for housing he set out last year.

He told the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg: “This week we’re extending loans to housing associations, the people who provide homes for social rent, in order to ensure that there can be at least another 20,000 new social homes there.

“That’s on top of the £11.5 billion in the affordable homes programme, which is grant money that goes direct to local authorities and housing associations to provide more homes.”

He could not guarantee that the soaring number of people living in temporary accommodation would come down before the general election, but said the Government will bring in a long-awaited ban on no-fault evictions by then.

Ministers first said they would end these section 21 evictions, where a tenant can be evicted without reason, in 2019, but long-awaited rental reforms have not yet been passed.

“We will have outlawed it and we will put the money into the courts in order to ensure that they can enforce it,” Mr Gove said.

He laid the ground for his announcements with a warning that young people shut out of the UK’s housing market could turn to authoritarianism.

“It’s a barrier to young people feeling that democracy and capitalism are working for them,” he told The Sunday Times.

“It’s simply harder for us to make that case if people who’ve got broadly ‘small c’ conservative values, or actually no particular political agenda at all, feel that they’re being shut out.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Government last year dropped compulsory housing targets to ward off a potential backbench Tory rebellion, choosing instead to make the target to build 300,000 homes a year in England advisory, after construction repeatedly fell short.