Councils need more funds to provide affordable housing, report says

By William Eichler | 27 July 2022

Councils and housing associations should be funded to buy and upgrade existing homes to be let out at affordable rents as part of a wider shake up of the private rented sector, think tank says.

A new report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has called for fundamental reforms to the private rented sector (PRS) to open the market to those locked out of home ownership and social housing.

As well as arguing for more funding for councils and housing associations to help them provide affordable accommodation, the report called for a review of the regulations that govern mortgage lending to prioritise lending towards those looking to buy for the first time over landlords.

It also called for fiscal reforms to reduce speculation on property, and more support to help renters buy the home they live in, including through a Right to Buy for private renters.

The think tank is also argued for the creation of mechanisms to allow landlords to receive funding to retrofit their home to high environmental standards, in return for leasing it to a housing provider to provide to tenants at lower than market rents.

Darren Baxter, senior policy advisor at JRF, said: ‘The housing market is not working. In recent decades we have seen the rapid growth of the private rented sector alongside the decline in the proportion of households in social housing or owner occupation. Consequently, millions of people are stuck paying unaffordable rents, worried about being evicted by their landlord and have little opportunity to save.

‘Right to Buy and the expansion of the private rented sector following the global financial crisis have already shown that rapid shifts in the distribution of homes are possible. Reforming the private rented sector by shifting the distribution of homes within it should be the gateway to further, fundamental reform of the housing market. Reforms of this type would ensure the housing market supports those looking for somewhere to call home over those seeking assets to invest in.’

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