Future perspectives on affordable housing: ARM beyond 2015?

Since January, Future of London has been undertaking a major research project on the use and viability of the Affordable Rent Model for delivering affordable housing in London. Building on earlier sessions, our third and final research seminar on 30 April looked forward to an affordable housing programme post-2015.

Drawing from data from the CLG, the GLA and housing providers, we now have a more up-to-date picture of ARM first-lets and conversions (to Q3 2012-13). A small number of housing providers are undertaking a large amount of the ARM activity, and almost exclusively it is housing associations (rather than London boroughs) who are building or converting homes under this programme. There is a wide and uneven distribution across LBs of where ARM activity has happened to date, as illustrated on the map below.

Total ARM first-lets and conversions, by borough, to Q3 2012-13

Source: CORE data, cumulative to Q3 2012-13

The 58 organisations contracted to the Affordable Homes Programme in London are scheduled to provide 22,268 homes under the programme, 74 per cent of which will be under the Affordable Rent Model. While the GLA is optimistic, it is too early to say definitively whether this target will be met; the number of homes on-site by September 2013 will give a better idea of the expected delivery numbers.

Whether or not the target is reached, there are many reasons to explore the role ARM should have in the next affordable housing programme. In recent years, the affordable housing programme has been built on sector regulation and an implicit understanding that housing benefit could take the strain.

Today, there is a weaker regulatory framework (as evidenced in Moody’s downgrading of housing association credit ratings), and government commitment to housing benefit has become provisional and qualified. This changing context, along with concerns on affordability and deliverability raised in our previous sessions (see here and here), increase the importance of exploring models for delivering affordable housing after the current programme ends in 2015.

For these reasons, this research project on the Affordable Rent Model is well-timed. We will be submitting an advance copy of our findings to the CLG in early June, ahead of the next Spending Review on 26 June, where an announcement on the next programme (or extension of the current programme) is expected. We will be launching our report publicly in late June. Please check back for updates.

The presenation from the event is available below.

This project is supported by the Oak Foundation.