More value-for-money community-led homes are needed

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sarah brooke-taylor

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Herewith copy of an interesting article from The Planner (the newsletter of the RTPI).

Community-led housing offers high value for money from public funding by delivering significant economic, social and environmental benefits, according to an economics consultancy.

A study by Capital Economics, based on the Green Book Framework used by the Treasury to evaluate the value for money of spending proposals, shows that over a 10-year horizon each £1 of public support delivers £1.80 of benefit.

This rises to £2.80 when factoring in health and benefit savings, wellbeing and income distribution.

The report says the sector provides much-needed additional housing for those with lower incomes, with more than 80 per cent of community-led homes in the development pipeline planned for rent at below-market rates. It suggests that these homes would not otherwise be built, with community-led housing groups willing to take on difficult sites that mainstream providers deem unviable.

The knowledge and ability of residents to generate community consent is also a benefit, with 10 per cent of groups developing sites which local opposition had previously blocked. Community-led organisations also special unlock land for housing, with the research revealing that 80 per cent of sites are acquired at below-market prices and close to 40 per cent are acquired for free or at a token price.

The estimated health and social care cost savings from reduced overcrowding, reduced hazard risk and improved outcomes for older people equate to around £560 per home a year. The National Community Land Trust Network, which commissioned the study, is urging the government to announce a five-year renewal of the Community Housing Fund totalling £180 million in the Comprehensive Spending Review.

“The government’s Community Housing Fund has been an overwhelming success,” said the network’s joint chief executive Catherine Harrington. “It has created a pipeline of thousands of community-led homes but where it was only open for 18 months many of these projects are now stuck.

“There are 10,780 homes ready and waiting to be built, most of which will serve the government’s levelling-up agenda and boost local economies.”

Housing by the Community, for the Community – An Assessment of the Value for Money of Community-led Housing in England is available here.