Background to the report

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities (the Department) intervenes in the housing market to try to ensure there is sufficient supply of affordable housing. A lack of affordable homes causes social inequalities and can increase cost pressures elsewhere in central and local government, such as on housing benefit payments and temporary accommodation.

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The Affordable Homes Programme (the Programme) provides grant funding to housing providers in England to support the costs of delivering affordable homes. The Programme has iterations based on funding periods or policy changes. This report focuses on two iterations of the Programme that run concurrently, the Shared Ownership and Affordable Homes Programme 2016–2023 (2016 programme) and the Affordable Homes Programme 2021–2026 (2021 programme). It also touches on the short‑lived Affordable Homes Programme 2015–2018 (2015 programme).

Scope of the report

This report assesses how effectively the Department discharges its responsibilities for the Programme, and how it oversees Homes England and the GLA. We also examine Homes England’s management of its part of the Programme. We do not assess the GLA’s management of its part of the Programme as it is not a central government organisation that we audit, and the London Assembly instead provides local scrutiny. Unless stated, all data for housing starts and housing completions are as at 31 March 2022. Data for housing forecasts are as at May 2022.

Our report examines:

  • whether the Department set the 2016 programme up well and whether it is likely to achieve the intended benefits (Part One);
  • whether the Department set up the 2021 programme well and whether it forecasts achieving the intended benefits (Part Two);
  • whether the Department and Homes England are overseeing and managing the Programme effectively (Part Three); and
  • how well the Programme contributes to wider government objectives (Part Four).

We do not cover wider issues that influence the delivery of housing, such as developer profit, developer contributions or the wider land market.

Report conclusions

Since 2015, the Department has made improvements to the running of the Programme, but there are still areas it needs to address, such as data gaps, developing business cases in line with guidance and its governance and oversight. The Department has demonstrated that the 2021 programme provides economic benefits but it does not expect the programme to fully deliver on its targets. Even if the targets are met, the way the programme is designed means homes may not be built where they are needed most. The Department could be more ambitious in how the Programme supports wider government objectives, in particular how it contributes to the government’s net zero commitments.


Publication details

Press release

View press release (8 Sep 2022)

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