Welcome rise in affordable homes being built in Wigan

More affordable home building was under way in Wigan last year, despite the pandemic bringing disruption to the construction industry.

Tuesday, 13th July 2021, 3:03 pm
Updated Tuesday, 13th July 2021, 3:04 pm
The pandemic hasn’t prevented an acceleration in Wigan home-building

Homes England data shows building started or was completed on 800 affordable homes in Wigan in 2020-21 – 248 more than the previous year.

The number of schemes was also much higher than 2017-18, when 546 affordable homes started being built or were delivered.

Homes England is sponsored by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to fund new affordable housing schemes.

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Of the schemes progressing in the area in the year to March, 272 affordable homes were completed, including 219 affordable rentals, two social rentals and 51 affordable ownership homes.

Across England, 28,191 affordable homes were started in 2020-21 – 21 per cent fewer than the previous year. The proportion of affordable homes completed also dropped by 15 per cent, to 24,023.

Housing charity Shelter says with over a million households on the waiting list for a social home, any drop in affordable house building was a big problem.

Chief executive Polly Neate said: “If this slowdown continues because developers lose confidence, the dream of a safe and secure future gets even further out of reach for many. This just shows that we can’t only rely on private developers to build the housing we need – the Government needs to pull its weight and start building homes itself too. By investing in a new generation of social housing, it could provide families with genuinely affordable homes while also supporting the construction industry and boosting the economy.”

PricedOut, a campaign group for affordable house prices, says it wants to see the Government press ahead with the reforms proposed in last year’s planning white paper to boost supply.

Reuben Young, affordable homes lead, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a huge drop in new housing supply, and because the supply of affordable homes closely tracks the supply of market homes, this has meant fewer affordable homes too. We need to make sure this is just a blip rather than a precedent.”

Peter Freeman, Homes England chairman, said he was confident the housing sector would recover, thanks also to a new £12bn Government-backed scheme to develop affordable housing.

He added: “The statistics show that we’ve kept making homes happen despite the huge impact of Covid-19 on the housing industry.”

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