Council welcomes additional funding for affordable housing but raises concerns about impact
Last week the Government confirmed £12.2 billion of funding for affordable housing, which was announced in the budget earlier this year.
This includes £700 million through the new homes programme, which has been extended to 2022 and a new £11.5 billion Affordable Homes Programme, which is aiming to deliver an additional 180,000 new homes across the country between 2021 and 2026.
There is a significant shortage of affordable housing in Hastings, with over 1,600 applicants currently on the housing register waiting for social housing.
Waiting times are often very long and some people on the housing register will not be allocated a property. This is due to the low turnover of existing stock and the lack of new affordable and social rented homes being built.
The council expects the number of people in housing need in Hastings to increase in the recovery period from coronavirus, particularly once the current restrictions on evictions from rented properties are lifted and the furlough scheme comes to an end.
Andy Batsford, lead councillor for Housing and Homelessness, said,
"We welcome the commitment of £12 billion funding but believe this is still inadequate for the scale of the problem, which is significant. The current scheme has struggled to support Hastings to meet its affordable housing targets. We don't know how the money will be allocated yet but what is needed is more sustainable, targeted and tailored funding to meet the scale of the problem.
"We are concerned about the commitment to make genuinely affordable rented accommodation available in Hastings because half of the funding has been earmarked for home ownership projects.
"Given the high numbers of people in housing need in Hastings and the affordability of much of the accommodation available in in the town for those on low incomes, this commitment falls well below what is needed.
"Whilst we await details of how this money will be allocated, we are concerned that that some of the schemes which might benefit local projects are ineligible for any of the funding.
"Further, we believe that any increases in affordable housing may well be lost through other government plans such as the proposed watering down of affordable housing requirements outlined in recent government consultation on revisions to the planning system.
"It is our view that the Government is missing the opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to 'level up' society. We believe that the proposals outlined will not go far enough towards assisting many of the vital key workers who have done so much to support our local communities in the current COVID-19 pandemic."