Fewer than Half of ‘Affordable’ Housing in Leeds Offered at Low-Cost Rent
Leeds’ has a fine tradition of producing housing for those that need it, whether it’s the generations of council housing which can still be found throughout Leeds or the ‘affordable housing’ which is mandated by the local and national governments when new properties are built today.
That aforementioned affordable housing policy splits the city into four zones (viewable here). The policy states that Zone 1 developments should include 35% affordable housing for developments over 10, whilst Zones 2, 3 and 4 should include 15%, 5% and 5% affordable housing respectively, for developments over 15.
These numbers are designed to ensure that developers don’t produce huge sites which exclude those on lower incomes from being able to afford them.
It’s a valuable scheme, one which promises to keep housing developers from segregating the city, however, new figures suggest that less than half of the ‘affordable’ houses built in Leeds over the past three years have been available at fixed, low-cost rents.
New government figures show that only 1,016 total flats and houses which have been built in the city between 2015/16 and 2017/18 meet their definition of ‘affordable’. Worse still, only 477 of those properties have been available for social rent – a low cost, fixed rent offered mostly by councils and not-for-profit organisations.
For those on low incomes, social rent options are a godsend, allowing them to live safely and comfortably without choosing between dinner and meeting rent. Homeless charity Shelter has called the figures another example of the ‘incredibly low’ supply of social housing. In total, 31.19% of affordable homes built in Leeds have followed the social rent model.
The issue arises from the types of property which are counted as ‘affordable’ in official statistics. These include ‘affordable rent’ homes which have rent prices a maximum of 80% of the market rate and 'intermediate rent' homes, which involve subsidised rent with a view to purchasing a home, neither of which is ideally suited to those on the lowest incomes.
‘Affordable’ housing also includes ‘shared ownership’ homes where the occupier mortgages a share of a new build property from a housing association whilst they pay rent on the part they don’t own. Finally, there are ‘affordable homes’ which are either sold at 80% of market rate or are available in conjunction with the help-to-buy scheme.
2017/18 has proven to be a tough year for affordable housing in Leeds, with just 185 affordable homes built across the year thus far, with only one month remaining.
Those figures are in stark contrast to the previous two years, which yielded 384 affordable homes in 2015/16 and 447 affordable homes in 2016/17.
Polly Neate, chief executive at Shelter, said: “Today’s figures show that the supply of social homes remains incredibly low.
Despite a very small increase in social housebuilding this year, we still delivered 80 per cent fewer homes than in 2010.
The gap between the number of social homes we need and what is being delivered is vast. This just isn’t acceptable when nearly 280,000 people are homeless in England today.”