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Affordable housing world changed for good by Recession

Liam Bailey, head of residential research, Knight Frank, said: "The affordable housing world will be changed for good by the current Recession. There is simply not enough money – from the public purse or the private sector, to subsidise new development for a long time. The sector needs to do more with less and affordable housing providers are going to have to work their assets harder to support more affordable development.
"One of the most notable changes in affordable housing in its broadest sense, has been the growth of groups eligible to apply for subsidised housing. There has already been a shift away from key worker eligibility status towards income-based assessments. In the UK, £60,000 of household income is now the accepted limit for eligibility for access to most shared ownership schemes and there is talk of this limit being raised to £74,000 in the capital. In London Boris Johnson, the Mayor, has equated eligibility to cover everyone paying basic rate income tax.
"This is a remarkable situation to find ourselves in – and something which points to the real need for an expansion of delivery of housing across the board to improve access to housing.
"Despite lower house prices, affordability is still a serious issue. When we consider mortgage financing, the market is arguably more unaffordable and inaccessible for the average first-time buyer than at the peak in 2007. Lower property prices have not meant improved affordability.
"Despite house prices falling by 15% or 20% on average, the proportion of a buyer’s income required to secure a mortgage, has only come down 1% – 24% of a buyer’s income was required to secure a mortgage at the peak in 2007 and now it has only come down to 23% by mid 2009, despite the fact they need to secure larger deposits than in the past. So the situation for first-time buyers is pretty tough."

Sue Cocking, head of affordable housing, Knight Frank, added: "One of the most significant changes to affordable housing policy will come if there is a change of government between now and June 2010. There is growing interest in understanding what future Conservative Party policy will be. The most useful guides are the party’s green paper Strong Foundations, which was launched in April 2009, and the emerging London housing policy under Boris Johnson – which is the test-bed for Conservative thinking in this area."

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