12 July 2018
The UK is currently suffering a deficit of affordable housing and it is an issue that keeps on growing. Now the deficit is almost the size of Leeds - what can we do about this issue?
The UK is currently suffering a deficit of affordable housing and it is an issue that keeps on growing. With more people facing poor conditions and even homelessness in the face of this deficit, why are more people not concerning themselves with this issue? In some part, blame can be laid at the feet of the government. There is a constant fall from compared to demand by 11,000 every year starting in 2011 - with such stark statistics, is it any wonder that this issue has occurred?
But, what can actually be done to solve this issue - both in Leeds and beyond?
What Makes Housing ‘Affordable’?
The term affordable housing covers social renting - provided by the council or associations - or homes under shared ownership. This covers housing even if it is let to tenants at a rate of up to 80% of the market rate. Housing that caters to private tenants and buyers, for example, does not come under the bracket of affordable.
With more and more cities concentrating on commercial development and promoting the boom of commercial property agents throughout the country, it leaves a large gap for housing. Especially when the housing that is being developed is purpose-built for the professionals taking up roles in the commercial space. So, this leaves the question: why is affordable housing being left so far behind by this type of development?
The government aim to provide 50,000 new affordable homes every year (until the of this parliament in 2020). And there are plenty of studies to show that such a number doesn’t even cover the right amount of housing needed to ensure sustainable affordable housing over time. In fact, the number would need to be much closer to 78,000 instead - with the government not even hitting the much lower target this seems like an almost impossible dream. The only way this would work is if development professionals and cities chose to match this kind of number. Which, at the moment, they are failing to do.
It is growing so bad - according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation - that the deficit in affordable housing is actually nearing the size of Leeds.
Imagine that. As a country, we are lacking enough housing to cover the size of a major metropolitan city. It’s astonishing and hard to believe in a modern, first world, country, let alone the United Kingdom.
How do We Solve a Problem the Size of Leeds?
It will be a long time coming and difficult to negotiate between all of the different government factions. But, it is possible if an actionable, reasonable, plan is put into place. Considering the current state of housing and the political issues that the country currently faces, however, could see this issue only grow over time, instead of getting better. At the end of the day, it may require more charitable intervention and some goodwill on the side of developers to see this deficit shrink.