Government funding has been awarded to progress an important piece of work aiming to help tackle the deepening housing affordability crisis in Hertsmere in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Currently, Hertsmere households must earn at least £67,000 to afford to buy a property and £34,400 to rent privately. However, the lower quartile income level for Hertsmere’s population is £25,300, according to the most recent local housing need assessment (1). It means home ownership or private rental is out of reach for a significant proportion of the borough’s residents – and numbers are expected to grow following the pandemic.
In a bid to address this growing disparity, we are beginning work on an Affordable Housing and Tenancy Policy that will set out how housing delivery can better meet local need. Expert support, funded through a £20,000 grant from the Local Government Association's Housing Advisers Programme, has been secured to help progress this policy. Hertsmere is one of just 17 local authorities nationally to secure funding through the programme.
Councillor Jean Heywood, Portfolio Holder for Housing, said: “We currently have more than 500 households on our housing register, all eligible for lower-cost housing, but the supply simply doesn’t meet the demand.
“Unfortunately, the pandemic is only going to exacerbate the problem – more and more people are finding themselves out of work, which could impact on their ability to privately rent. They may need support from us to help find somewhere to live.
“As a non-stock-holding council, we already have strong relationships with registered housing providers and routinely engage with developers to help ensure that homes are built to meet local need.
“However, our new Affordable Housing and Tenancy Policy will help strengthen our position when negotiating housing on new developments, and help improve transparency with registered providers and developers.
“With this policy, we will be clearly setting out our stall in terms of what we expect from developers, registered housing providers and all our partners.
“Longer-term, we expect this work to lead to the development of more suitable and affordable housing, which will benefit us all.”
In addition, we are working on a new Local Plan for the borough, which will guide development and influence how the borough changes through the after-effects of the pandemic over the next 15 years.
The Affordable Housing and Tenancy Policy will sit alongside the plan, which is expected to be published later this year.
A draft of the policy will also be available for public consultation later this year.
Posted on Thursday 11th February 2021