22 Feb 2021

What the Social Housing White Paper says about: home ownership

The long-awaiting Social Housing White Paper – the Charter for Social Housing Residents – was published on 17 November last year. Now that the immediate dust has settled, it’s a good time to start to unpack some of its contents and what they mean for the sector. This blog will look at the proposals within the white paper to support more people, including social housing tenants, into home ownership where they want to own and their circumstances make it possible.

The charter for social housing residents is focused on ensuring that people living in the social housing sector enjoy good quality homes which are safe, and where they are listened to by their landlord. The final chapter looks at how, where tenants want to, they can be helped to move into owning a home, as part of the wider drive to increase home ownership that was set out as a key ambition in the government’s manifesto.

Reflecting survey evidence that 60 per cent of social housing residents would still like to own their home, but that only one-quarter anticipated being able to do so, the white paper explores how the government aims to make this possible, within the context of a new Affordable Homes programme intended to deliver around 180,000 new homes, and its drive to improve the quality and design of both homes and neighbourhoods.

The charter sets out plans to:

  • Step up the number of low-cost homes to own through its Affordable Homes programme – about half of the homes delivered will be for affordable home ownership
  • Implement a new model of shared ownership which will be easier to access and fairer for potential purchasers
  • Implement a right to shared ownership for housing association tenants of rented homes delivered under the new affordable homes programme.

It also recognises the voluntary right to buy pilot in the Midlands as part of its programme to support people into ownership.

In looking at the government’s overall ambition to increase the take up of home ownership, the final chapter steps back from the focus solely on social housing residents and reflects a broader policy position. As well as offering opportunities to social tenants and others, the measures will involve challenges and practical implications for providers. 

For example, the new shared ownership model is likely to be an attractive product for many customers particularly in higher value areas, but it entails additional risks and burdens for providers that will need to be considered in relation to the number of new homes overall that they can deliver.

How will the new Right to shared ownership be applied to new homes developed under the programme? And what kind of appetite do we think there will be amongst tenants to exercise this new right? What will this mean for how providers and professionals manage homes and neighbourhoods?

We will be considering these measures, the implications for providers and what practical steps are needed to prepare with Deji Ishola, senior policy advisor at MHCLG in our webinar on Thursday 25 February 2-3pm.