The Autumn Statement pleased the social housing sector. With £4.55bn set aside for affordable homes, 70% of which is destined for London, the Government plans to finance 90,000 homes in the capital and a further 40,000 throughout the UK.
The UK’s largest housing association, Sanctuary Group, was so encouraged that it immediately revised its projections for new build, adding 6,000 to existing plans for 24,000 new homes by 2026.
In other developments and as previously noted by Rockfire, the Chancellor of the Exchequer earmarked £2.3bn for 100,000 homes in areas of high demand.
This brings Autumn Statement support to a total of 230,000 homes which is much appreciated but nowhere near enough if the Government is to meet its objective of one million new homes over the next five years.
Even with extra help from the mobile, modular and brownfield solutions that have been mooted, the chances of providing a roof any time soon over the heads of all who need it are modest. The construction industry may not be able to keep up with demand for one simple reason: it is heavily reliant on foreign workers and tougher immigration controls will further aggravate the existing difficulties that building firms face when staffing projects.
It is very tempting to conclude that one answer might lie in the peer-to-peer (P2P) model. There must be underused assets scattered around the country – second homes or commercial property – that could be retrofitted and shared, leased or even sold. There are P2P platforms for mortgages such as LendInvest but no apparent market for tangible property assets other than AirBnB.
There is something close, developed by Commonweal Housing. This is the Peer Landlord scheme which uses grant funding to refurbish empty dwellings and take on a long lease. It is operating in uncharted territory and has yet to perfect its business model. But the experiment has at least moved beyond theory and may pave the way for a Zipcar-style revolution in housing.