454 affordable housing starts

Much excitment from the likes of @richardjmurphy  about there only being 454 affordable housing starts in the first 6 months of this year.

He tells me he\’s right, the Minister has said so!

Well, no, actually the Minister didn\’t say that.

Here\’s the announcement.

• There were 1,746 housing starts on site and 15,329 housing completions in England in the six months to 30 September 2011. Starts on site were delivered under the National Affordable Housing Programme, the Kickstart Housing Delivery Programme and the Property and Regeneration Programme and completions were delivered under these programmes in addition to the Local Authority New Build Programme and FirstBuy.
• 454 of the housing starts on site were for affordable homes of which 259 were for social rent and 195 for low cost home ownership. Some 70 per cent of these starts on site were in the HCA’s Midlands operating area1. Starts related to new delivery through the 2011-15 Affordable Homes Programme will commence from the second half of 2011/12.

No, that is not saying that there were only 454 affordable housing starts in that 6 month period. That is saying that under the NAHP, KHDP, PRP etc, there were 454 affordable housing starts.

How many actual affordable housing starts were there? That would be in the UK housing figures over here. \”Affordable\” is usually taken to mean social landlords and local authorities.

There were 9760 affordable housing starts in England alone (on a not-seasonally adjusted basis).

The Minister is saying that central government plans delivered 454 affordable housing starts. Devolved, local and semi-private sector provided some 20 times that number. Something which, given that the provision of affordable housing is largely a devolved, local and semi-private sector activity, not a central government one, shouldn\’t be all that much of a surprise.

Do note this from the Minister\’s press release as well:

The figures in this release show the supply of affordable homes delivered under the National Affordable Housing Programme, the Local Authority New Build Programme, FirstBuy, the Kickstart Housing Delivery Programme and the Property and Regeneration Programme together with market homes delivered under the Kickstart Housing Delivery Programme and the Property and Regeneration Programme.

Yup, this is the number of affordable housing starts under certain specific schemes. It is not the total number of affordable housing starts.

The figures exclude any housing outputs which may be attributable to the programmes inherited from the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Yup, it really is the number of affordable housing starts under certain specific schemes, not the total number of affordable housing starts. Note that local authorities alone started 790 houses in these six months. Note that 790 is larger than 454.

Do not let them get away with turning this 454 bollocks into a number everyone believes.


17 thoughts on “454 affordable housing starts”

  1. Whatever the actual number, I still can’t see how the number of affordable housing starts can be the sole determinant of the UK’s economic performance, as RM’s original tweet suggests. Am I missing something important?

  2. Pingback: @richardjmurphy spouts bollocks

  3. I’ve posted an explanation on Dr Eoin Clarke’s blog (he covers this as well; just the thing for his spreadsheets).

    We shall see if he allows it.

  4. I’m afraid all this “affordable” stuff gets right up my nose. At the most absurd, if a property is “unaffordable” then it will remain unsold. Effectively, “affordable” means subsidised. Either the land is undervalued, or a loss is being made by the landlord or seller based on the market price.

    The more “affordable” houses there are, the more the property market (and others too) is garmed up. It means that lower paid jobs may be filled by those who are being otherwise subsidised by the public (ie taxpayers) purse.

    At the very least, it would be better to charge full rent and give an explicit subsidy, so that all the cards are on the table.

    Much better, IMO, to pay the market rate for the job and remove the market-obstructing, hidden subsidy.


    (All this is besides Tim’s consistent point about the cost of housing being determined by the restriction of building land.)

  5. @ “Nick”
    TW’s” consistent point” about the high cost of housing being down to the restriction of building land was torpedoed when he was challenged on his contention that UK planning permissions routinely take five years to process.In fact the median figure is 11 months .
    There is a great deal of subsidy in housing:most of it goes to the generation whose house prices rocketed in value giving them an unearned,untaxed capital gain in an asset they also lived in (without paying any “imputed rent” which was the subject of an effective Schedule A of Income tax before 1963).This subsidy is a blatant bribe to keep this electoral bloc voting in the way they have been for the last forty years. Si monumentum requiris ,circumspice.

  6. DBC Reed, that median figure of 11 months for planning permission is artificially low, because rejections are processed much more quickly than approvals (98% of rejections are done within target time; fewer than half of approvals are).

    I also suspect it includes things like extensions, which tend to be approved more quickly.

    The National Audit Office study found that the average time taken for the planning process on a new residential development was 98 weeks:
    paragraph 5

    And even that is only the time from the start of discussions with the local authority planners – having been involved a bit in these things, there is a lot of expensive work beforehand in putting together a proposal that has a reasonable chance of being accepted.

    Easily 2 years in total; not quite Tim’s 5 years (not sure where that was from), but a lot more than 11 months.

  7. @”Richard”
    The National Audit Office study does n’t show this at all. The 98 weeks figure includes the pre-application faffing about and the delay after permission is granted before they start building.
    They do conclude para 5 with the worldy-wise comment “a reduction in the total time taken requires action from both authorities and applicants.”

  8. @ 10
    And you can account for those thus:
    The time required to get all your ducks in a row submitting an application that’s got a chance to get PP approval.
    Because both the time taken to gain approval & the likely success are both much of a lottery, the lead time necessary to make a start grows. If the time taken to do a build is a year then the minimum delay will be that year. For it to be any less, you’d have to have permanent spare capacity in the building industry sitting on it’s thumbs. The spare capacity would be costing money so pushing the cost of building up.

  9. DBC Reed (#10), no, almost all of what their measuring is the actual planning process.

    1) The “pre-application” part that included in the 98 weeks is now part of the process – it’s the discussions with the council’s planning department that’s pretty much compulsory if you want to get approval, and the changes to your plans to fit with their “suggestions”.

    All the preparation work the developer has to do before they even talk to the planners isn’t included, because they’re only counting from when discussions with the planning department start.

    2) At the other end, the 98 weeks is only counting until the initial site work starts. In my experience that’s usually within a few days of getting approval. Sure, it might take a bit longer to get the heavy work started, but the “start on site” that they’re measuing to is very quick.

  10. @ Richard
    Fort the sake of clarity,this is what para 5 actually says .(My numbers in brackets).
    “The Department’s measure only covers the determination stage of the development management process and excludes the periods before an application is submitted and after a decision is made (1)The total time taken can be substantial if these stages are included (2)but the Department does not know how long this period is (3) or whether this time has reduced as a result of its iniatives(4).For our case studies,the average time takenfor the whole process from pre-application discussion to the the start of construction was almost 98 weeks (5)Securing a reduction in the total time taken requires action from the both authorities and applicants.(6)
    Notes 1) The Department specifically excludes preliminary faffing about and delays before building which are the applicants’ affair;
    2)Statement of obvious;
    3Why should they when it’s the applicants causing delays ?;
    4)Obviously official efforts/iniatives to speed up the planning process are already in train;
    5)This includes times wasted by applicants;
    6) Explicitly states that applicants do their share of time-wasting.

  11. As someone who has land that is (potentially) the subject of an large urban extension, I have a quite extensive experience of the development process. Note I said development, not planning.

    These large housing developments (thousands of houses) take decades to come to fruition. Developers took options on my land first back in 1995. Since then they have promoted it at various planning reviews etc, spent a fortune on all sorts of surveys (wildlife, flooding, traffic, archaeology, public transport etc etc). By the time they (eventually) put in a planning application (having effectively got the nod from the council that it will be passed) it will probably the best part of 20 years since the scheme was first mooted.

    This is how large planning applications work. The time from the lodging of the paperwork with the local authority to the granting of the permission is nothing compared to the time and work it takes to get to a position where a planning application can actually be made.

  12. @Piers

    Surprisingly, though, Shapps didn’t use the argument Tim has deployed here. I’m intrigued as to why he didn’t.

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