Agenda item

Agenda item


Purpose: To introduce the Scrutiny Panel to the Growth Deal Affordable Housing Work stream and consider how to address some of the key issues in building a successful programme.


Information: Affordable housing report (attached)


Recommendation: The Scrutiny Panel note and comment upon the report



Paul Staines, Growth Deal Services Delivery Manager presented a report and presentation on the Growth Deal Affordable Housing Workstream which introduced the workstream to the Panel and sought to consider how to address some of the key issues in building a successful programme.


Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council and Chair of the Growth Board Housing Advisory Sub-Group attended the meeting for this item and drew the Panel’s attention to the Note of the Sub-Group meeting held on 15 January 2019 which had been circulated. Councillor Brown, in summary, commented that she found the work of the sub-group to be particularly useful and that, although it was still early days in the development of the sub-group, all the partners were working well together and sharing experiences on affordable housing. 


Key observations were that all the councils had different policies and priorities for affordable housing. In developing the three-year programme learning had, for example highlighted the necessity of economies of scale for modular housing if a scheme was to become viable to modular build providers.  This issue could potentially be addressed by combining schemes.


In the update, and in their discussion about the issues raised, the Panel commented:


  1. The median average earnings per year required to purchase an entry level house was 12 times average salary. There was some concern that even though affordable housing for rent might be ‘affordable’ within official definitions, at 20% below local market rents it was still unaffordable for many people. The Panel noted whilst there was flexibility with the definitions of affordable housing contained within the National Planning Policy Framework. (NPPF) to set a percentage in excess of this in response to local conditions, it was difficult to achieve this in practice because of the grant rates and rent levels set by Homes England. Shared Ownership was also felt by various members of the Panel to be unaffordable for many people.
  2. Progress to date set out in the report towards the achievement of indicative totals for the Affordable Housing Programme, (AHP) on Year 1 as part of the Deal Delivery Plan were welcomed as were the ambitious indicative totals for future years.  The Panel felt that it would be useful if a project plan could be included in future reports including delivery milestones.
  3. Proposed changes by the Government to the borrowing limits set for councils with Housing Revenue Account, (HRA) were welcomed.
  4. The conditions of the grant funding provided through the Growth Deal Affordable Housing Programme were broadly in line with those offered through the Homes England Affordable Housing Programme.
  5. The Deal conditions for grant recipients included provision to claw back grant in the event of non-delivery.
  6. Provision of affordable homes through the Deal were separate and in addition to any secured by local planning authorities via Section 106 contributions. 
  7. Delivery of the homes set out in the AHP was an ambitious challenge and it was important that the stated targets were delivered. Quality and innovation would also be important.   
  8. The Panel asked for data on the number of social housing units delivered by the districts and affordability target noting that the numbers provided within a council area could vary considerable year to year depending on the delivery of a big site that might not be repeated in subsequent years.   
  9. There was a concern that there was not enough focus on the provision of extra care housing within the overall context of affordable social housing. Officers responded, highlighting a number of extra care schemes included within the programme.
  10. The Panel noted that Growth Deal affordable housing grant could only be provided to Registered Social Landlords, (RSLs) including stock retaining local authorities.  All RSLs were covered by Right to Buy/Right to Acquire legislation.


The Panel agreed:

1)    That a further update be presented to the July meeting.

2)    That as part of the update, data on the 1,000 affordable homes per annuum delivered by councils in Oxfordshire over the last three years be split by district and city council with any necessary context.    



Supporting documents: