The Smith Institute: Affordable Housing Commission

Funding at a glance

Programme: Nurturing Ideas to Change the Housing System
Amount: £312,900 grant
Approved: 2018
Timescale: 20 months


The Affordable Housing Commission will seek to achieve a clearer, agreed and applied definition of affordability that will help make housing in England genuinely affordable.

Why we are funding this project

The current model of affordable housing in England is unfit for purpose. It increasingly ties prices to market values, rather than focusing on what people can really afford. We know that the housing people want, in the places they need to live, is becoming more and more unaffordable. Ordinary, in-work households are struggling with housing costs and these are pushing people into poverty or deeper into poverty, by leaving no money left behind after housing costs are paid. Affordability, or the lack of it, is of huge concern to us. It most harshly affects people on low-incomes and those who are already experiencing disadvantage or challenging circumstances.

There is a need to refocus the debate around the supply of affordable housing away from a debate purely focused on numbers to one that also addresses whether those homes are genuinely affordable for the people that live in them. We know there is confusion over the definition and regulation of affordability; even homes labelled as affordable under the National Planning Policy Framework’s definition, are not within the financial reach of people on low incomes in certain parts of the country.

The commission will seek to make a clearer, agreed and applied definition of affordability that will help make housing in England genuinely affordable and this is turn will help people to escape the misery of poverty.

Strategic purpose

To improve understanding of the ideas that have potential to create change in the housing system.

Project description

The Affordable Housing Commission is constituted as an independent, free-standing inquiry into affordable housing in England. The commission is chaired by Lord Best and includes a team of widely respected housing experts and parliamentarian commissioners.

The commission will include calls for evidence and it expects to be disseminating its findings by early 2020.

The Smith Institute has been funded by the Nationwide Foundation to act as secretariat to the commission.

Affordable Housing Commission
The Smith Institute

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