Only 11% of 630 applicants accepted into Band 5 of the Affordable Housing Gateway are living in social housing accommodation
Link to this disclosure as published on the gov.je website:
Date of Request:
16 March 2017
Date of Response:
04 April 2017
I made this request to the FoI Unit after reading Andium Homes Strategic Business Plan 2016-2020
, released last August (link below to PDF document). On page 13 of this document ("Objective 4 - Promoting affordable home ownership"
), Andium stated as follows (extract):
Increasing the supply of affordable homes for purchase is a key objective in the Housing Strategy recently published by the Housing Minister. Andium Homes is in a unique place to support and deliver upon that objective. Indeed, we already have in place an affordable purchase scheme which helps new home owners onto the first rung on the property ladder. Andium Homes has, as part of its business plan, sold fifteen properties per year. In total to date, this has allowed over 150 buyers qualifying through the Affordable Housing Gateway to become homeowners by deferring up to 25% of the initial purchase price. Our new target is to provide over 300 homes during the period of this plan, as set out below.
Andium went on to declare that from 2017 onwards it intends to increase the number of sales of existing properties from 15
per year. Of even more concern is its plan to sell 116 other properties in 2019 alone from "new sites and intensification"
. That means it intends to sell a total of 141
properties in 2019 compared to just 28
properties in 2017.
That is obviously a very significant increase in just 2 years which led me to question whether Andium could possibly find enough of its own social housing tenants capable of buying all these properties and if it couldn't, would it try to persuade the Housing Minister to loosen the current Affordable Housing Gateway criteria so that the likes of dual income high earning couples (AKA "Dinkies"
) currently renting in the private sector could become Andium tenants and then apply to purchase the Andium homes they were living in?
On page 12 of the report, listed under Objective 3, this statement by Andium seemed to confirm my fears:
Encourage the Strategic Housing Unit to review the criteria for inclusion onto the Affordable Housing Gateway. This, with a view to opening up the list to others not currently eligible, including all lifelong renters on low incomes, particularly those without children and key workers.
I therefore submitted my request in order to discover, not only whether the number of applications being accepted into Band 5 of the Gateway list is significantly increasing (because Andium wants it to increase and is actively encouraging potential buyers to register), but also whether Andium's lobbying has so far brought about the relaxation in the Gateway criteria that it is seeking.
Sure enough, the FoI response shows a significant 54% increase (from 212 to 326) in the number of new applications accepted into Band 5 of the Gateway list between 2014 and 2016.
However, the response also states in part (3) as follows:
There have not been any changes to the eligibility criteria required for acceptance into Band 5 since the Gateway was established in September 2013. Applicants are accepted into Band 5 and whether they are eligible to benefit from an affordable home purchase scheme will depend on the criteria that is put in place by the affordable housing provider at the time of the scheme. The Minister for Housing is not currently considering making any changes.
My analysis of this response is that currently Andium must be able to satisfy demand from amongst its own social housing tenants for those intended 25 sales of existing properties per year and this is why no changes to the eligibility criteria have yet been approved by the Minister. However, it will obviously be a different story in 2019 when it intends to be selling 5 times as many properties, the majority of them new builds. The bulk of that number will definitely be targetted at non-social housing tenants and if the current criteria prevents Andium from reaching its sales target then mark my words - the tail will wag the dog and the Minister will loosen the eligibility criteria to allow the likes of high earning people without children and essential employees to buy Andium's new homes.
The more intriguing question is whether a loosening of the current eligibility criteria would also allow these same types of people (those without children and essential employees) to actually jump the long queue over those in far greater need and become Andium tenants with a view to then becoming home owners on estates such as Grasett Park and Bashfords, where tenants who rent and can't afford to buy are gradually being removed and replaced by tenants who can afford to buy. My concern is that as time goes on, the number of existing Andium tenants capable of buying their own homes will gradually fail to satisfy Andium's target of 25 sales of existing properties per year. This is surely logical because the number of Andium tenants who are in a position to buy their own from Andium is finite and clearly limited. Unless Andium can replace them with similar new tenants who would also be in a position to purchase then demand for those 25 existing properties per year will gradually tail off.
I think it is very important to note that essential employees don't just include the likes of doctors and nurses. Our government also allows the finance industry to import high earning employees (e.g. accountants and lawyers, etc.) from around the world under the guise of 'essential employees'
and the new Housing and Control of Work legislation already allows these high earning immigrants to rent properties in the private sector that were previously restricted to A-H (i.e. local) residents under the previous Housing Law. This is already adding to the current excessive demand problem for affordable private sector rental accommodation as some local private landlords are now preferring essential employees over local residents (I have provable examples of this).Could we also see these imported bankers, lawyers and accountants being permitted to become social housing tenants within the next two years purely in order that Andium can achieve the aims set out in its Strategic Business Plan? Even if this is not the case, I think they will still be allowed to be included in a relaxed Band 5 whilst continuing to live in private rented accommodation (some of which might be paid for by their employer) in order that they can then qualify to buy when the huge number of Andium new builds suddenly comes onto the market in 2019.