HCA launches new £4.5bn Affordable Homes Programme
- Published on Monday, 14 February 2011 12:07
- Posted by Scott Buckler
The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) has today(Feb 14th) published a Framework setting out the details of its new Affordable Homes Programme of investment......inviting Registered Providers to put forward proposals for £2.2bn of funding (out of the overall £4.5bn funding pot) for affordable housing during the 2011-15 Spending Review period.
The Framework, co-produced with the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), is a step-by-step guide for providers who wish to apply, working alongside their local authority partners. It outlines the changes in affordable housing provision being introduced for 2011-15, and how this new approach will meet the Government’s ambition to deliver up to150,000 new homes over the next four years.
Key to this new programme is the Affordable Rent product, a more flexible form of social housing that will allow providers to charge up to 80% of market rent on properties, potentially increasing revenues and reducing the level of Government investment in affordable homes. As part of the new funding offer, providers will also have the flexibility to convert a proportion of their social rented homes to Affordable Rent as part of a package agreed by the HCA, with all of the additional capacity generated used to deliver new affordable homes. The Framework will also enable the funding of other housing options including affordable home ownership.
The Framework makes clear that proposals must meet local priorities, with pro-active discussions between local authorities and providers key to success. The HCA - through its enabling role - will act as a bridge between local authorities and providers to help deliver homes in line with local needs.
Any provider, offering value-for-money, can submit proposals. Existing consortium arrangements are expected to be maintained or expanded and larger providers are particularly encouraged to work with smaller, rural, specialist (e.g. supported housing) or community-based organisations in order to better reflect local need.
Significantly, the way in which funding will now be allocated has changed. Unlike the previous funding model of continuous market engagement, providers are now invited to submit proposals for delivery of affordable housing to the HCA for the entire four year period which will be managed through a flexible approach.
Pat Ritchie, chief executive of the HCA, said:
“This new approach gives increased flexibilities for local authorities and providers to plan ahead and deliver much needed affordable homes. At a time when funding is tight, this new way of operating will allow us to do more with less resources, but it will rely heavily on effective working partnerships, which is where the HCA will play a significant part.
“Housing is of course only one element of the HCA’s overall offer to help communities thrive. We will continue to work with our local authority partners in our capacity as enabler, to help them deliver the best outcomes for their communities, and housing is a key part of that.”
Housing Minister Grant Shapps said:
“With some 4.5m people on social housing waiting lists, it’s clear that not only do we need more homes, but we also need a complete overhaul of the system, to one that offers much more flexibility than the current ‘one size fits all’ approach.
Additionally, the document outlines how the HCA will assess the bids, and how programme management will operate under the model. It explains the role of the social housing regulator, currently the TSA, and details arrangements for London, where the HCA’s powers are proposed to transfer to the Mayor in April 2012,. A timetable for the programme is included.
Registered Providers will have until May 3rd to submit their proposals to the HCA, after which point all offers will be assessed. Subject to Ministerial approval of the proposed programme, it is anticipated that initial contracts will be ready in July.