Austerity blamed for drop in affordable housing

Social housing

Fewer affordable homes will be available to people due to cuts to the planning departments in Welsh councils, a social housing body has said.

Community Housing Cymru (CHC) said a lack of planning resources had led to fewer low-priced homes being built.

Money spent by councils on planning departments in Wales has more than halved from £159m in 2010 to £77.4m in 2017-18.

The Welsh Government said it aims to build 20,000 affordable homes by 2021.

Stuart Ropke, chief executive of CHC, said affordable housing has suffered as "austerity has bitten" and is making it easier for housing developers to lower the amount of social housing they provide in new developments.

The Home Builders Federation (HBF), which represents private developers, said the process of granting planning consent is being slowed down because fewer planning officers are working for councils.

What do developers have to do?

When building new developments, developers are often asked to make a contribution to meeting identified local need for affordable housing, known as a Section 106 clause.

Affordable homes mean there are secure mechanisms in place to ensure that it is accessible to those who cannot afford market housing. It can mean social housing that is rented out, or homes that are sold below the open market price.

The number of affordable homes to be provided depends on the local planning authority's planning policy and negotiations with the developer about what is considered to be feasible.

A Welsh Government official said: "We are working closely with home builders, local authorities and housing associations to increase the number of affordable and market homes available in Wales."

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