One of London’s leading estate and lettings agents has criticised the government over what he calls its “pitiful” record on affordable homes.
Marc von Grundherr, director of Benham and Reeves, describes the relatively low number of new affordable and social-sector homes as “the smoking gun behind the UK’s housing crisis.”
“Just 60,000 homes delivered in a year and no change in the level of social housing in a decade is pitiful, to say the least, and suggests that the government has given up trying altogether” he says.
“Affordability is an issue not just in the London market but nationwide, and an issue that is largely exacerbated by a failure to build more homes at all levels to keep pace with a growing population and an increase in buyer demand” he continues.
“If we’re going to alleviate some of the strain on the market we must build more and this, in turn, will help boost affordability.”
His comments come in the wake of figures produced by the Office for National Statistics on the supply of affordable housing across the UK.
They show that there were 60,000 affordable homes built, bought or rehabilitated between April 2017 and March 2018.
Over the past decade, across the UK there has been an average of 62,400 affordable homes delivered annually, with a high of 78,800 between April 2014 and March 2015 and a low of 43,500 between April 2015 and March 2016.
There are sharp differences between the national regions.
England’s annual average of 50,800 over the past 10 years shows a slight decrease in the long term while Wales’ 2,400 average shows no major change.
Meanwhile, Scotland on 7,100 nationally and Northern Ireland on 2,200 show increases in long term trends.
The ONS says that of April 2018 there were some five million homes in the social housing sector across the UK, representing about a sixth of all properties, and this proportion has been stable over the past 10 years.
Scotland had the highest proportion of homes in the social sector in 2018 - that is, 22 per cent of homes.