The government has announced new measures to increase the number of affordable homes in the UK. Housing secretary Robert Jenrick announced the new Affordable Homes Programme, to be delivered over five years from 2021 to 2026 providing up to 180,000 new homes across the UK, depending on economic conditions. This will be in addition to £700m on new homes being spent on a programme running from 2016 to 2022.

The investment, listed in the Budget earlier this year, revealed that around half of the new homes would be available for affordable home ownership, while the rest will be for discounted rent, including 10% for supported housing for those with physical or mental health challenges.

As part of the programme, a new shared ownership model would see the minimum initial share to buy in a property reduced from 25% to 10%. People would also be able to buy additional shares in their home in 1% instalments with heavily-reduced fees.

The shared ownership model will also include a 10-year period for new shared owners where the landlord agrees to cover the cost of any repairs and maintenance to the property. A vast majority of the rented homes delivered through the new programme will give tenants the right to purchase a stake in their home.

Homes England, the government’s housing accelerator, will deliver £7.5bn of new homes outside London. The public body has published its Affordable Homes Programme prospectus, inviting councils, housing associations and private providers to start preparing their bids. Homes England plans to deliver new homes from next year.

“The announcement represents the highest single funding commitment to affordable housing in a decade and is part of our comprehensive plans to build back better,” said Mr. Jenrick. “This government is helping hard-working families and prospective first-time buyers get their feet on the housing ladder in an affordable way.

“Thanks to the range of flexible ownership options being made available, more families across the country will be able to realise their dreams of owning their own home, with half of these homes being made available for ownership.”

Nick Walkley, chief executive of Homes England, said: “The fund will also support improved productivity in construction and unlock new economic opportunities across the country. Despite the challenges of covid-19, this long-term funding settlement gives our partners the confidence they need to invest in new homes and the communities they work for.”