A major change to the Affordable Homes Programme will enable the housing sector to use the funding to build replacement homes as well as new ones.
Thanks to the change, housing that is outdated and no longer fit-for-purpose can now be replaced with new, energy efficient, affordable homes.
The announcement by Homes England means that the housing and regeneration agency can better support its partners in the task of upgrading England’s affordable housing stock.
Housing Minister Rachel Maclean said: “We remain committed to building the affordable homes this country needs and a key part of this is improving the quality and supply of social housing.
The changes I am announcing today will unlock more affordable housing by ensuring we replace old homes with ones that are fit for the future. This is absolutely critical in helping us regenerate communities, speed up housing delivery and provide high-quality homes for more families.
“I’ll continue to work with Homes England and developers to get delivering through this scheme as quickly as possible.”
This latest change is to come into effect immediately
Funding through the programme for providers building affordable homes and replacing existing homes with new affordable homes is now available, and can be obtained through Homes England’s continuous market engagement route, while existing Strategic Partners will be able to use grant already allocated to them.
Funding decisions will be made on a regular basis up until the end of March 2025, with the Agency especially eager to see proposals that can deliver at pace, maximise the number of new affordable homes, and enhance wider efforts to level up and regenerate communities.
Peter Denton, Chief Executive of Homes England, acknowledged the balance the affordable housing sector has always had to achieve between investing in existing homes and building new homes, with the financial pressures over the last year exacerbating the difficulties in achieving this balance.
He added: “This change is something the sector has been calling for, and with it there is a real opportunity to accelerate the regeneration of social housing and help level up communities across the country.
We’ll be working quickly to make this funding available to ensure partners can get the maximum benefit from this change, and are ready to use all of the tools, capacity and capability we have available to us to support delivery.
“We encourage all affordable housing providers and local authorities to come and talk to us as early as possible if they need support to develop their proposals – we’re here to help.”
Homes England plan to continue upgrading housing over the next five years
Having initially been introduced in March 2021, the Affordable Homes Programme will run until 2026, and to qualify for funding under this latest change, building must commence on site by 31 March 2025 and deliver net additional homes, alongside the replacement homes.
The change was agreed with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, and is part of the Agency’s wider efforts to boost the affordable housing sector, whilst aligning with their five-year strategic plan.
Published in May, the plan aims to deliver high quality homes and thriving places throughout the country over the next five years until 2028.
According to the plan: ‘This will support greater social justice, the levelling up of communities across England and the creation of places people are proud to call home.’
The plan has five interconnected strategic objectives including building homes people need, creating vibrant and successful places, building high-quality homes, maximising the positive impact of sustainable homes and places, and building a housing and regeneration sector that works for everyone.