Not enough affordable homes in Horsham to meet demand, new figures show

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The council and housing associations in Horsham are struggling to find enough affordable homes for low-income households, according to new housing data.

In the 12 months up to March last year, 427 families or individuals were placed in social and affordable housing, but hundreds more remain on the waiting list, figures from the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government show.

As of 1 April 2017, there were still 656 applicants waiting for social housing.

Horsham is one of the only places in the country where the council made more affordable housing offers to people in 2016/2017 than it did five years ago, up 5% from the same period in 2012/2013.

When making housing decisions, councils and housing associations will assess a person’s income, family status, and their connection to Horsham, as well as other factors.

Two types of rented property are offered in social housing.

Social rents are usually no more than 50% of the market rate and are set nationally.

Affordable rents are significantly higher, generally between 60% and 70% of market rates, and are set locally.

In Horsham, the majority of new housing offers, or 76.8%, were for social rent.

Social housing is managed by councils and housing associations, which are independent not-for-profit companies.

Both are failing to build enough new homes to keep up with demand, and the figures show the most common reason for a social home becoming available was because the previous tenant had moved.

In the 12 months to March 2017, 120 new affordable homes were completed in Horsham.

And no new homes for social rent were built in 2016-2017.

Nationally, housing associations and councils let 334,602 homes for below market rent in 2016-17, down from 374,586 a year earlier, a drop of 11%. This is the lowest level since records began in 2007.

The figures demonstrate a long term decline in the availability of social housing.

According to analysis by the Chartered Institute of Housing, 150,000 homes for social rent have been lost in England since 2012.

Most of the losses were down to social homes being converted to affordable rent or being sold through Right to Buy, which allows tenants to cheaply purchase their home from the council.

Chief executive of the institute Terrie Alafat said: “For many people on lower incomes, the only truly affordable option is social rent. It is simply unacceptable that we are losing so many of our most affordable homes at a time when more and more people are in need.

“Government investment is still heavily skewed towards the private market. Our analysis shows that 79 per cent of the housing budget up to 2020/21 is directed towards private housing, with just 21% going to affordable housing. Rebalancing this budget, so that more money is spent on affordable homes, could make a big difference.”