Affordable Rent seems to be the housing sector’s buzz phrase at the
Despite the Coalition Government’s attempt to break the world record for the highest number of policy announcements in the space of 12 months, this is the one reform that housing associations in particular are struggling to get to grips with.
Designed to give HAs greater freedom to maximise the delivery of new social housing at a time of reduced state subsidy, the Affordable Rent programme seems at present to be providing more questions than answers.
Can it really help to deliver 150,000 new homes over the next four years? Will increasing social rents to within 80% of the market really serve the interests of tenants? How will the changes to housing benefit impact on people’s ability to pay? And perhaps most pertinent of all, particularly for HAs in the north of England, can Affordable Rent actually work anywhere other than in small pockets outside the South East?
The current approach of Housing Minister Grant Shapps isn’t helping. There is a distinct lack of detail in the Government’s Affordable Rent policy at a time when the sector is seeking clarification on a whole range of issues. Unfortunately every time Mr Shapps discusses this ‘flagship’ policy he turns into a Tory automaton spewing out the usual platitudes about how rubbish the previous Labour government was at building houses. Some have argued that CLG has no idea what the impact of the Affordable Rent policy will be, least of all Mr Shapps. A half-baked Coalition policy? Surely not.
But don’t fear 24housing readers for we have found a man who is more than willing to crack open the curate’s egg to discover what’s inside. Neil Merrick gives us a flavour of what’s in store on.
Elsewhere in this issue, our Deputy Editor Ross Macmillan reveals his Damascus-like conversion to all things eco after spending three days at this year’s Ecobuild conference. His kiss and tell diary starts on.
And if that wasn’t enough, we are thrilled to be launching our new ‘Talking Heads’ series of features where we get social housing tenants to grill their chief executives on the issues that matter to them. First up, Family Housing CEO Tim Sewell is interviewed by tenant Laverne Major. Let’s hope she doesn’t mention Affordable Rent…
Editor, 24housing Magazine