New housing minister Christopher Pincher has pledged to analyse whether fewer affordable homes will be built because developers were allowed to defer certain commitments during the Covid-19 crisis
However, Pincher, who became the 10th housing minister since 2010 when he took up the role in February, said this would be a ‘light-touch’ review, as he would not want to spend too much time and money on the issue.
In May the government issued guidance encouraging councils to let developers defer delivery of obligations through the Section 106 planning mechanism. Such obligations commonly include creation of, or financial contribution towards, affordable homes.
Labour MP Abena Oppong-Asare asked Pincher about the effects of this policy when he appeared virtually before the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee on Monday (8 June).
‘My focus is to support the builders and the supply chain to ensure we can build out as rapidly as possible after this emergency,’ he said. ‘SMEs don’t necessarily have large balance sheets to sit on and ride out the emergency.
’Section 106 is a negotiation between builders and local authorities. In the 2007-9 crisis the government pushed Section 106 deferrals quite heavily to help SMEs through that crisis and in the medium to long term you get more build out.’
Oppong-Asare pressed the minister for a review into how the guidance was going to impact delivery of social housing.
‘I am happy to look at the effect of deferrals,’ he replied. ’I hope it will be a very positive one.
’I would not want a detailed study that is going to take time, cost money and perhaps not give us too much information. I am happy to have a light-touch look.’