Subsidised schemes that provide a low-cost foot on the home ownership ladder for key public sector workers and others are being rapidly outstripped by demand. In Greater London, where the problem is more acute for teachers nurses and social care staff, some 41,000 applications were received in the last year from a whole range of eligible applicants, but the number of low-cost home ownership properties funded by the Housing Corporation was 1,300.Research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has revealed that demand for low-cost home ownership is particularly strong in areas where market prices are high. This includes schemes such as ‘Homebuy’, where would-be owners are helped to purchase properties with a subsidised loan, and ‘shared ownership’, where homes are part-purchased and part-rented.
The Foundation in its report ‘Swamps and alligators: The future for low-cost home ownership’ is critical of local authority decision-makers who it claims often fail to recognise the benefits of making shared ownership, and other low-cost schemes part of the mix when considering new housing developments in their area. By focusing on the immediate requirement for rent-only accommodation among households on their waiting lists, they neglect the strategic need to create sustainable, mixed-income communities.
The findings of the report have been presented to the Minister for Housing, together with a call for the Government to send a clear message to local authorities, stressing their responsibility to meet the housing aspirations and needs of the wider community. The Foundation is also urging the Housing Corporation to ensure that all housing associations include low-cost home ownership schemes as part of their publicly-subsidised developments.