26 May 2021

Will councils now meet their social housing challenge?

The Government has announced its First Homes programme, which will see homes delivered at a 30% discount against market value and the first sale value must be no higher than £250,000 (or £420,000 in Greater London).

Richard Beresford, chief executive of the National Federation of Builders (NFB), said: “Most people want to own their own home; therefore, the First Homes programme offers a unique way for people to do that, more affordably. Local authorities will decide who qualifies for these homes, so they need to ensure they understand who in their local community, is most at need.”

The First Homes programme has a number of criteria:

  • A minimum of 25% of all affordable housing units secured through developer contributions should be First Homes
  • First Homes may obtain an exemption from the requirement to pay Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL)
  • Homes must be sold to a person or persons meeting the First Homes eligibility criteria
  • First Homes are the government’s preferred discounted market tenure and should account for at least 25% of all affordable homes
  • Local authorities and neighbourhood planning groups have a discretion to require a higher minimum discount of either 40% or 50%, if they can demonstrate a need for this

Rico Wojtulewicz, head of housing and planning at the House Builders Association (HBA), the house building division of the NFB, said: “Just like the delivery of social housing, the cost of First Homes will be a challenge for small and medium sized developers. However, I am sure this policy will prove popular.

We hope councils now take the social housing challenge more seriously by setting themselves higher housing targets in local plans and meeting that ambition to either build their own social homes or working with housing associations and other registered providers to deliver them.”