Why are they keeping quiet about ‘affordable rent’?

The Government’s announcement of the new ‘Affordable Rent’ programme gets more and more curious.

We commented last week that although they and the HCA listed the 146 organisations that would receive money for the high rent initiative, both had failed to say who would build how many homes and failed to provide any information at all about the two key criticisms of the scheme – the rent levels that would be charged for the properties (they could be ‘up to 80%’ of market rents)  – and the number of re-lets of existing social rent homes that will instead be let at so-called ‘affordable rents’ to pay for the programme – ie taken out of the existing pool of genuinely affordable homes.   Nor, when we think about it, is there any
information about how many will be let on flexible (ie possibly short term) rather than permanent tenancies.

The information is clearly available, as London mayor ‘Codswallop’ Johnson tried to make political capital by saying the average rent in London would be ‘65%’ – ie much higher than social rents now but not as disastrous as it could be, reflecting a big effort by housing providers in London to make sense out of the whole thing.  Johnson continues to obscure the real truth about the housing programme in London and still has the cheek to claim credit for the continuing completions of social rented homes from the programme inherited from Ken Livingstone.

Today, Inside Housing claims that housing providers have been ‘told to keep quiet’ about their allocations – ‘HCA tries to silence landlords’.  Keith Exford, chief executive of Affinity Sutton, is quoted as saying that Ministers got ‘carried away’ in their announcements.

The ‘affordable rent’ programme is intermediate housing masquerading as social rent.  As Johnson already has, the government will make great claims about their achievements in
producing affordable homes.  But ‘affordable rent’ is not affordable in many parts of the country, however hard providers try to let it to people who would previously have been offered social rented homes, and in many cases it will not be secure.

With key information withheld and providers apparently silenced by the paymaster, the government are taking the public for fools.

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2 Responses to Why are they keeping quiet about ‘affordable rent’?

  1. Jenny says:

    I honestly don’t think they accurately know the details of how many homes each association will develop or any details of relet conversions or rent levels. Many associations probably aren’t sure yet either. Many developers were given only a proportion of the funds they bid for and need to work through what this means and go back to HCA with new proposals. It doesn’t neccessarily follow that a fifty percent cut, say, will mean an association can deliver fifty percent of their original offer. I don’t think there will be a truly accurate picture of this brave new world until contracts are signed in the autumn.

  2. I’ve been told by a housing association recently that in order to fund new development they will be focusing their ‘affordable rents’ in the places where it ‘works’ because that’s the only way they can fund development. I interpret this to mean that they will be putting up rents to 80% of market level in local authorities where rents are highest as this will be where they make the most money.

    And they also said they will look at building in low cost areas as they will be able to get more built for the same cost.

    As far as I could work out this means that the higher rents paid by housing association tenants in high cost areas like Reading, which arguably need more social renting will be subsidising building of houses in low cost areas.

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