The reduction in anticipated rents over the 4 years will remove £350m from the balance sheets of SRS in GM, this will inevitably effect the sectors ability to invest in existing stock and to build new homes. The right to buy is more difficult to quantify but housing association stock will be lost and Councils such as Stockport are likely to lose the most sought after properties through being forced to sell.
The removal of planning requirements for affordable housing for ‘starter’ homes which have a benefit for the first buyer but no long term benefit for getting on the housing ladder, so will reduce opportunities in the long run and represents very poor value for money.
All the SRS in GM are working together to look at how we maximise the significant asset base and rent role to maintain house building and support for existing tenants.
A number of schemes have been successful in getting loans approved to get building going on sites, the objective is to recycle the fund over the 10 years as loans are repaid. About £67m has been committed since the launch in July. Over the 10 years I hope the fund will support building quality, sustainable homes across GM.
I certainly hope that developers recognise the value in building to high environmental standards and considering the future energy needs of housing being built.
I think it is too early to see, apart from the transport work on the rail franchise for the North, much practical output from the Northern Powerhouse concept yet. The recognition that the North could help to re-balance the economy is welcome. The potential for northern councils working in collaboration is enormous but the work needs to be done in building relationships and understanding where acting across the North in partnerships will add value.
It would be nice to see the government recognising the ongoing need for affordable housing and the public sector’s role in providing this. The emphasis on home ownership as the only worthwhile tenure seems to have so unbalanced the agenda that there is a lack of recognition that for a significant proportion of the population home ownership is not a suitable or achievable but appropriate housing is a basic need and a right in our society.