North 'will lose out in housing funding'

Housing Image copyright PA

There is set to be a dramatic fall in the share in government funding for new homes in the north of England, the region's housing associations say.

Homes for the North said if there were no change of heart the region's funding share would fall to half of what it was 20 years ago.

It blamed the decision to direct the bulk of funding to high-demand areas, such as London and the South East.

The government said it was determined to build the homes people needed.

In 2018 the government announced 80% of investment would go to areas where rents and prices were the highest.

Homes for the North, made up of 17 associations across the north, said it would mean councils in the vast majority of the north of England would only be able to bid for a share of the remaining 20%, alongside large parts of the Midlands.

A report compiled for the group said while northern regions received 24% of government housing funding 20 years ago, this could fall to about 11% by 2023, making it hard to reach a target of building 75,000 homes a year.

'Smarter investments'

Its chair, Carol Matthews, said: "The current strategy directs the lion share of public investment to where homes are already too expensive, adding heat to the housing market.

"This misses a huge opportunity to make some smarter investments in northern communities, where the economic and social impact will be higher."

Nigel Wilson, group chief executive of Sunderland-based Gentoo Homes, said it would hold back regeneration.

He said: "Investment in the Northern Powerhouse requires new housing to make sure we can be an economic driver for the whole country.

"We can't have the new factories without people and homes."

However, the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government defended the funding policy.

A spokesman said: "The government is determined to build the homes this country needs and we're working with authorities across the north to ensure more people can achieve their dream of home ownership.

"But some parts of the country are much less affordable than others so it's right our funding is directed so homes can be built where they are needed most and where demand is greatest."

See more on Sunday Politics, BBC1, 10:00 BST, Sunday, 22 September.

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