Community-led housing: improved wellbeing and proven value for money

Research released today (15th September) has added weight to calls for funding for community-led housing. Commissioned by the National Community Land Trust Network, Housing by the Community, For the Community looks at the value returned on public investment in the sector in England. The report suggests a clear value for money case for community-led housing projects, with every £1 of investment delivering an estimated £2.70 in benefit.

What’s more, the report comes just in time, substantiating calls by housing campaigners for new funding from the chancellor’s Comprehensive Spending Review, due this autumn. The Nationwide Foundation is among a number of housing organisations that would like to see a renewal of the Community Housing Fund for five years, with £180m investment in revenue and capital, so that the pipeline of 23,000 community-led homes can be built and the sector can thrive.

Among its conclusions, the new research found that community-led housing:

  • saves the NHS money, by solving problems like damp and cold in new homes, which then impact on the health of residents
  • reduces the amount that would be spent on Housing Benefit by providing truly affordable homes
  • improves the wellbeing of residents as well as the campaigners who’ve worked to build community-led homes.

Today’s report adds to a growing base of evidence about the positive impact of community-led housing. It sits alongside research published last year from the Wales Co-operative Centre that reported a wide range of benefits felt by people living in or involved with co-operative or community-led housing.

Leigh Pearce, chief executive of the Nationwide Foundation, said: “At the Nationwide Foundation, we’re committed to community-led housing and have been now for over a decade. While we’ve always believed that it represents good value for money, until now the case hadn’t been tested.

“Now we have clear evidence that not only does community-led housing provide the homes people want, in the places they’re needed at prices people can truly afford – importantly, it has been proven to be a really wise investment for the public purse.”

Gary Hartin, who leads the Nationwide Foundation’s Backing Community-led Housing programme said: “Not only is this research incredibly welcome, it comes at the perfect time. The chancellor is currently putting together his Spending Review, and so we hope that this evidence gives him and the government renewed confidence to continue funding the community-led housing sector.

“The government was forward-thinking when it introduced the Community Housing Fund, which saw the pipeline of new homes rise to 23,000. I know I speak for many sector colleagues in saying that we hope such support will continue with the renewal of the Community Housing Fund in the Comprehensive Spending Review.”