Truly Affordable Housing

Truly Affordable Housing







The government has a duty of care to citizens, but are they fulfilling this? They must provide a home for those “who lack their own housing or live in unsuitable housing and who cannot afford to meet their needs in the open market.” This is done by fixing a proportion of new builds to be sold off or rented as ‘affordable housing’. The plan is designed to help those with the lowest incomes to buy or rent safe, secure, decent shelters. They don’t have to be houses, yet large estates are springing up on the edges of towns across Cornwall.

What does affordable mean? Government (DCLG) guidance says:

  • 5 times household income to buy.
  • Less than 25% of income to rent.

One third of households in Cornwall earn £15k and half of the population can’t afford to buy a house in the open market (SHMNA, p.170). This means one third of the population can afford rent of £312 per month, or a mortgage of up to £52k at today’s interest rates (Make that 57k with a deposit). A total of 5,500 households qualify for this support (and yet the Council claims that this translates into a need for 2240 of these homes every year).

Therefore Cornwall Council must deliver 2240 new homes at below £57k every year, to fulfil its statutory duty.

Do you know of any ‘affordable’ homes marketed above that price in Cornwall? There was a three bedroom property recently marketed as ‘affordable’ in Perranwell near Truro, at a price of over £270,000. This is clearly an abuse of the system. The affordable housing scheme is exploited by property speculators, private landlords who buy-to-let, and wealthy private buyers. Indeed a recent survey by Civitas estimated that 27% of affordable homes in London are sold to foreign investors in China and Russia.

If there is a genuine need for a high volume of good, low cost homes with easy maintenance, the answer is not to build expensive houses on green fields at the edge of towns. We need to demand well-designed apartments in and around town centres, or micro projects in collaboration with rural communities.

We need a better system. Let’s get the basic things right.


© Orlando Kimber, all rights reserved

Image: New affordable housing and a derelict mill in Hayle, Cornwall. The apartment block under construction is being built to be rented to local people, most of whom cannot afford to buy anywhere to live in the local area due to incomers being able to pay far higher prices than local people can afford. This is a common problem in many rural areas of Great Britain. The derelict industrial building behind is a reminder that Hayle was a leading industrial town in the 19th century. By Tony Atkin.