I welcomed the recent news that the Government has approved funding for 8,000 units of specialist homes for older, disabled and vulnerable people.
The funding will form part of £4.7 billion in capital grants which will be disbursed for the shared ownership and affordable homes.
The two-bedroom bungalows we build and provide will come under this specialist category, so we are hopeful of being successful if, and when, we bid for money to deliver further affordable homes for older people in County Durham in the coming years.
Unfortunately, the money available on this ‘pot’ only represents 4% of the overall funding package, with the majority being focused on shared ownership and starter homes.
Whilst helping people onto the property ladder must be applauded, there will be a definite bias in the south where this kind of equity is more in demand.
Another big unknown is what is going to happen to the proposed Local Housing Allowance cap for Housing Benefit. The Government is currently reviewing this, and we are hopeful for a favourable outcome, but if the cap is instigated at the same level as people in privately rented homes, it could make bidding for the new development money almost pointless.
This would be because the rents required to sustain investment in the homes would be likely out of the reach of residents on full housing benefit.
We hope this is not the case, however, and that we can successfully bid for money to enable us to continue to provide the high quality older peoples’ homes that we are renowned for.