Agenda item 2 - Housing Partnership update

Chief Executives' Group - North Yorkshire and York

11 February 2022

Housing Partnership Update

1        Purpose of the report

1.1     To update the Chief Executives’ Group on housing, homelessness and the work of the Housing Partnership.

2        Progress as at 26 January 2022

2.1     In summary, the current housing picture is one of recovery but with some worrying trends developing. Many of the initial short term Covid impacts, such as a full cessation of property lettings during full lock downs, have passed with activity getting back to normal.   

2.2     The housing market has recovered well and remains very strong – there is a lot of new build activity and average house prices are rising 9% between June 2020 and May 2021. As always, strong housing market performance is a double-edged sword – on the one hand, it helps the Housing Partnership meet our annual housing supply target of 5000 but rising prices simply worsen affordability ratios (currently between 6x and 9x) whereby home ownership becomes less and less affordable for more residents.                      

2.3     Linked to housing market conditions, planning permissions and completions show a potentially declining picture in terms of permissions granted, but continued strong performance of completed homes. This can be best shown by looking at recent trends:

           Year             Permissions                      Completions

           18/19            11,730                                 4,728

           19/20            11,547                                 5,671

           20/21              9,430                                 5,904

           21/22 (mid)     2,170                                 2,692

 As can be seen from the above, performance in terms of housing completions has been strong in recent years but with a slowing down of permissions over the same period, which may impact upon supply levels in future years. The midyear figures are estimates and therefore need to be treated with caution - as Q3 and Q4 performances have been strong in previous years there is reason for optimism that the revised target of 4,759 homes will be delivered by the year end.

2.4     Housing supply performance also impacts upon the supply of affordable housing which is key to meeting housing need. The annual target of 1,600 new affordable homes has remained challenging to deliver:

          Year              Affordable Housing Number

          18/19                   1,103

          19/20                   1,334

          20/21                    1351

          21/22 (mid)           764

The recent Housing Strategy Review (approved by Housing Board in December 2021) has seen the annual affordable housing target adjusted downward, in line with Local Plan affordable housing targets, to 1,326. The midyear position in 2021/22 is encouraging in so much as delivery is above 700 homes for the first time in recent years.

The split between urban affordable completions (80%) and rural affordable completions (20%) is worrying as the shortage of affordable housing in rural areas becomes more acute.                    

2.5     Concerns around levels of homelessness are increasing with the pandemic having a cumulative impact on services and homeless levels. Some key trends are highlighted below:

  • The pandemic has had a cumulative impact on housing options services
  • Increasing numbers of people in temporary accommodation and people sleeping rough e.g. 120+ homeless people in temporary accommodation in Scarborough Borough currently
  • Increasing numbers of households accessing housing options services
  • A perfect storm developing, reducing housing solutions:
  • evidence of a contracting private rented sector market as landlords switch from long-term lets to the more lucrative short-term holiday market as the staycation trends continue – reducing the housing available for rehousing people in housing need
  • increasing private sector rents making the existing private rented stock more difficult to access e.g. in Skipton the average rent for a 2 bed house is £650, £200 above the local housing allowance rate
  • an increase in possession proceedings as Covid eviction protections end, placing greater strain on housing options teams
  • a shortage of specialist supported accommodation e.g. an increasing number of single homeless people with chaotic lifestyles             

2.6      Extra care housing saw a significant reduction in applications during the height of the pandemic in line with reduced lettings and Home Choice activity in the rented sector generally. However, extra care applications and lettings are increasing again with 150 people moving into extra care between September 2021 and January 2022. Two new extra care schemes were opened in the autumn of 2021 in Skipton and Filey, with a scheme in Bentham due to open in the Spring. Extra care housing tended to fare better than other care settings in terms of Covid impact / spread due to the self-contained nature of extra care apartments, making self-isolation much easier to manage.           

2.7     Social housing landlords saw significant service impacts during the height of the pandemic with the cessation of lettings, reductions in repair / improvement services and a degree of service disruption associated with the rapid switch to home working. However, the sector has remained resilient with no instances of service failure reported. The sector is currently in recovery mode with NY Home Choice and repair / maintenance activity getting back to pre-Covid levels. There continue to be issues around building materials supply with associated impacts of the time taken to procure supplies and a significant price hike in most key materials. This is and will impact on the maintenance of the existing housing stock and the delivery of new housing stock. The impact on new housing delivery will vary depending on the strength of supply chains, with the larger house builders (with greater purchase power) likely to fare better.        

2.8     The work of the Housing Partnership has continued during the pandemic with the Housing Board and Chief Housing Officers Group continuing to meet virtually. Key links have also been maintained with the LEP and the Directors of Development Group. Key pieces of work which have been taken forward are summarised below:

  • Completion of the review of the Housing Partnership’s Housing Strategy resulting in the production of a high-level stock take of current issues and associated future priorities – 2021 to 2024
  • Work to develop a Design Guide to improve the quality of new housing supply
  • Access to housing decarbonisation funding resulting in a number of programmes across the patch currently underway or about to start
  • Participation in the LGR Housing workstream and the associated sub work streams
  • On-going participation in refugee resettlement schemes in close liaison with County Council colleagues
  • Continuing to map and report performance against the Housing Strategy objectives
  • Sustained strong delivery of rural affordable housing from the Rural Housing Enablers working across North and East Yorkshire; the programme is forecast to deliver 374 rural homes by the end of this financial year.

3       Conclusion

3.1     In summary, the pandemic has brought many challenges to the housing sector but recovery is well underway in most respects. Housing markets remain strong but there are some worrying hangovers from the pandemic which are likely to create on-going challenges moving forward. Whether these are hangovers or simply longstanding issues which the pandemic has further exposed is debateable. However, key challenges will remain in the medium to longer term including a worsening homelessness problem and associated reduction in solutions (a changing private rented market), a strong housing market but with ever increasing affordability issues, continuing levels of housing need and new challenges associated with upping our game in terms of the quality of new housing while improving conditions (not least warm and affordable homes) in the private housing sector.          

4        Recommendations

4.1     The Chief Executives' Group note the update and challenges to the housing sector.


Colin Dales
Corporate Director (Operations)
Richmondshire District Council

26 January 2022