BASINGSTOKE and Deane is faced with a chronic shortage of affordable homes after new figures revealed that the number being built each year has crashed to 10 per cent of the annual target.
Only 31 affordable homes are predicted to be built in the 2012-13 financial year – far short of the council’s target of 300. And figures from Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council estimate that only 113 affordable homes will be built yearly until April 2015.
An affordable home is priced below what it would fetch on the private housing market, and is subsidised by Government.
The new figures come as the number of people on the borough’s housing register has risen by 21 per cent to 6,614 since March 2011.
At a borough council housing and environment overview and scrutiny committee, councillors reaffirmed that 40 per cent of new homes should be “affordable” – and they set a target of 300 affordable homes to be built annually.
Labour group leader Councillor Laura James described the crash in the number of affordable homes being built as “a disgrace”.
Speaking to The Gazette, she said: “If the Cabinet agree to 300 a year, it is utterly divorced again from reality because there have only been 31 affordable home completions this year so far. That is a disgraceful state of affairs and shows how the council have lost all control on this policy.”
But Cllr Rob Golding, the borough’s Cabinet member for housing and regeneration, said the 2008 housing market crash is to blame for the building downturn.
“No-one should be in any doubt that this is an extremely difficult time for housing policy,” said Cllr Golding. “Building houses is a long-term thing. We have to work to bring in more affordable homes in the future. A number of sites we thought were being built are now not coming forward.
“There is also a lot less Government money going into affordable housing, but there are ways we are addressing that, using our money and land. It is not something we have done in the past because we didn’t have to.
“We are looking at a lot of fronts to do something. The aim is to continue not to have homeless people in the borough.”