Credit crunch could scupper housebuilding goal, survey says

Almost three-quarters of social housing professionals are not confident that the sector can meet the government’s housing targets in the light of the credit crunch, a new survey has found.

A poll of Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) members also found that almost half of those surveyed feel that the rise in home repossessions is increasing demand for social housing.

Some 56% of respondents believe that there is an increasing risk of homelessness and 48% said rent arrears are growing as a result of rising living costs.

Almost three-quarters of those polled believe the government should regulate homeownership to promote stability in the housing market.

Meanwhile 70% said the time is right to introduce “reverse shared-ownership schemes” whereby social landlords buy a stake in private homes to help owners avoid repossession and homelessness.

The survey, which was launched at the annual CIH conference in Harrogate, also revealed that 16% of social housing professionals have had to reduce their development plans as a result of the credit crunch but 41% have not changed their strategy.

When asked how the attitude of housebuilders has changed towards affordable housing, one-quarter replied that builders are less likely to build affordable housing but 21% think they are more likely to do so. Almost all the social housing professionals who took the poll said the government should make the provision of housing advice a high priority.

Sarah Webb

Sarah Webb, CIH chief executive, said: “The credit crunch is highlighting the fragility of the personal finances of many homeowners and good housing advice must be placed at the core of the decision-making process to help avoid instability in the housing market in the future.”

Of the 878 CIH members who carried out the survey, half were from housing associations, almost one-third were from local authorities and 5% worked for an arm's-length management organisation.

Previously, Homes and Communities Agency chief executive Bob Kerslake admitted that the "trajectory" of the government's goal of building 3 million homes by 2020 would have to be kept under review but that the annual housebuilding targets were important to ensure social equality.