Housebuilders are struggling to build enough social and affordable housing to meet demand, according to a new survey.
At a time when social housing is high on the public agenda, housebuilders expect just 16% of the total number of properties they will build over the next year to be classed as social housing and just 20% as affordable homes (19% in London).
The survey of more than 400 housebuilding companies in England – including 100 in the capital – was carried out for McBains, a construction consulting and design agency.
According to the latest government statistics published in January 2018, local authorities in England owned 1.6m dwellings in 2017 – a fall of more than 50% since 1994 when the number stood at 3.67m.
The survey carried out for McBains therefore asked housebuilders how many council homes they had built over the last two years and how many they expect to build over the next 12 months.
Michael Thirkettle, Chief Executive of McBains, commented: “Our survey suggests that local authorities are not commissioning social housing in anywhere near the numbers needed to meet demand.
“Similarly, the chronic need for affordable homes, in London especially, is not being met with less than one in five homes classed as affordable. It means those most in need of housing will find it harder than ever to find accommodation within their budget.
“Developers are frequently accused of stifling the construction of new homes by ‘landbanking’ – sitting on land so that site values increase. But often the reason is that obtaining planning permission can stretch on for months, if not years, while the developer has already invested heavily in the project. Streamlining the planning system to help developments get off the ground quicker is required.”
On average, respondents had been contracted to build 191 homes in the last two years (rising to 263 in London). But of these, just 16% on average were social housing. In London – where demand is greatest – it was just 15%.
Housebuilders said they expected, on average, to build 181 houses over the next year (255 in London). But just 16% of these on average (and 16% in London) are expected to be classed as social housing.
Similarly, housebuilders were asked about the number of affordable homes they had built over the last two years and how many they expect to build over the next 12 months under Section 106 legislation. Of the homes built by respondents over the last two years, just 22% on average (and 22% in London) were affordable homes built under Section 106 legislation.