New fund should buy up private homes for social rent, says commission

The Affordable Housing Commission has called for a £1.3bn fund to provide new social rented homes. Its report, A National Housing Conversion Fund, proposes the creation of 42,500 new homes for social rent. These homes would mainly be properties sold by private sector landlords exiting the market. The houses could then be bought by social housing providers and community groups. In addition to new social homes, the fund could create more than 9000 new jobs, powering the post-Covid economic recovery.

This proposal is the latest from the Affordable Housing Commission after it published Making Housing Affordable Again earlier this year. Funded by the Nationwide Foundation, the commission is made up of 15 housing experts. It takes a wide view of our housing system and suggests practical reforms.

The Housing Conversion Fund would look to lessen the expected downturn in the housing market once current government support ends. Rather than the system of mortgage holidays and furlough payments, this fund would reshape the housing market. It’s a tried and tested idea, having been used by the Conservatives in the early 1990s to tackle the recession.

Lord Richard Best, the Chair of the Affordable Housing Commission said: “We believe the Chancellor has a great opportunity to stimulate the economy, boost jobs and tackle the housing crisis by backing plans for a National Housing Conversion Fund. This would bring empty and run-down properties back to life, stimulate activity on stalled sites, and assist landlords exiting the market, while addressing the acute shortage of homes at truly affordable rents”.

Jonathan Lewis, who leads the Nationwide Foundation’s Nurturing Ideas to Change the Housing System programme said: “With the Treasury putting together its Comprehensive Spending Review, this proposal comes at a perfect time. For us at the Nationwide Foundation, it would provide a welcome boost in the number of decent, affordable homes. What’s more, it would create new jobs and investment just when the country needs it most.”

Additional reading from the Affordable Housing Commission:

Making Housing Affordable After Covid-19
Making Housing Affordable Again: Rebalancing the Nation’s Housing System
Defining and Measuring Housing Affordability – an Alternative Approach