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Housing delivery programmes by Homes England saw an overall decrease in starts and completions in the first half of 2020-21 compared to the same period last year, according to official statistics released today (8 December)

The national lockdown resulted in Homes England’s delivery partners immediately pausing on some sites and implementing social distancing on others, with partners reporting anywhere between 60% and 100% of employees and contractors not able to be onsite.

The number of affordable housing starts made up over 79% of total starts on-site, although the 8,897 starts represented a decrease of 32% on last year.

The number of affordable starts in 2020-21 was the lowest since 2017-18 and while much of this can be attributed to Covid-19, the Shared Ownership Affordable Homes Programme (SOAHP) 2016-21 entered its final year and lower levels of affordable starts were expected.

In anticipation of the impact of lockdown on housing delivery, Homes England worked with the government to secure an extension to the SOAHP.

The agreement the housing agency secured focused on providing extensions on delivery dates and re-profiling budgets, meaning its delivery partners would have certainty on the grant funding underpinning their current grant-funded delivery pipeline.

Of the affordable homes started, 3,295 were for affordable rent – a 38% decrease on the 5,340 started last year.

A further 2,768 were for Intermediate Affordable Housing schemes (including Shared Ownership and Rent to Buy), representing a 34% decrease on the same period last year.

The number of social rent starts was 541, down by 26% on 734 last year.

In total, 7,612 affordable homes were completed, a decrease of 26% on last year.

Construction sector recovery

Nick Walkley, chief executive of Homes England, said: “As anticipated, Covid-19 had a significant impact on the construction industry in the first half of this year.

“Homes England has been working closely with delivery partners and colleagues in government to support the sector to build back its capacity.

“Confirmation of £12bn of funding through the Affordable Homes Programme gives confidence to the sector to support delivery over the next five years.

“By working with our Strategic Partners and the wider sector, we can ensure that the £7.5bn allocation Homes England received, along with the additional funding announced in the recent Spending Review, helps to stimulate the sector and ultimately give our delivery partners the confidence they need to invest in new homes.

“We are encouraged by the latest economic data showing that the construction sector is recovering and growing strongly, with housebuilding performing particularly well, and hope that the positive news on the development of several effective vaccines will aid further recovery.”

Homes England programmes are funded by central government to enable private registered providers, housebuilders, community groups and local authorities to deliver affordable housing.

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