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Social investment funds could help solve Britain’s housing crisis, says CAF report

Melanie May | 21 January 2019 | News

A report is calling for community groups to receive access to affordable land and early stage funding by Government and private institutions to help to solve the UK housing crisis.
Commissioned by Charities Aid Foundation, the Helping Communities Build report looks at community-led housing schemes run by Community Land Trusts (CLTs) and supported by social investment and philanthropic capital. The schemes enable local people to manage and create housing projects for their own communities, so new properties are built with local communities in mind, and a focus on affordable housing.
However, only 826 affordable homes have been built in England and Wales via these schemes to date, with just 5,810 community-led homes in the pipeline in England.
The report’s authors, Dr. Tom Archer and Dr. Stephen Green, both Research Fellows at Sheffield Hallam University specialising in housing development, and assisted by Charlie Fisher of architecture practice Transition by Design, believe community-led housing could achieve much more if community groups had access to affordable land and finance at an early, pre-development stage.
The report advocates several measures including reducing interest rates, particularly on pre-development loans, and creating a range of financial products that enable groups to plan and operate effectively.
CAF’s social investment arm CAF Venturesome has provided finance to CLT schemes through 57 investments to 33 individual groups around the country since 2008. All of the investments have come from philanthropic capital, with funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, the Nationwide Foundation, the Tudor Trust and private donors.
Holly Piper, Head of CAF Venturesome said:

“Community-led housing schemes such as Community Land Trusts must be taken seriously as a vital component in addressing this country’s shortage of housing. With the right support, such as access to affordable land and early stage finance, these are social investments that could use philanthropic capital to help fix a huge problem in our society.”
“The British housing crisis is a complex problem and requires a broad range of solutions if it’s to be fixed. But this is one way to keep up with housing demand and meet the housing needs in communities which otherwise would be damaged by a lack of affordable homes.”

The Helping Communities Build report comes a fortnight after the announcement from a cross-party commission that the Government must launch the biggest council and social house building initiative on record.
Currently, only 6,000 social homes are built each year in England. More than three million homes must be built in the next 20 years however, according to a year-long commission featuring former Labour Party leader Ed Miliband and the former Conservative Treasury minister and Goldman Sachs Chief Economist, Lord Jim O’Neill.


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