South Somerset continues to be one of the highest performing Districts in the South West for the production of new affordable housing, consistently beating nearly every other District Council area in the region and even some cities.
By the end of March 2014, almost 1500 new affordable homes will have been produced in South Somerset over a six year period. Just over a fifth of these were new homes to rent or buy on a shared ownership basis in rural areas, where the population of the parish is 3,000 or less. Almost £54 million of central Government funding has been deployed by the Homes and Communities Agency, together with District Council subsidy consisting of land and just over £3 million in cash grants.
The majority of new homes, over 850, will have been built by Yarlington, the locally based housing association created by the Council 14 years ago, including almost 350 replacement properties for concrete system-built homes deemed to be un-mortgagable or failing to meet the Decent Homes standard. This summer sees the last of such former council estates rebuilt. Seven other Housing Associations account for almost all the rest, with both Raglan and Jephson producing over 150 each.
The production of new homes is offset by a steadily rising number of people in high need of affordable housing and demand continues to outstrip supply many times over. While for the first time in more than a decade there are currently no homeless families or single people in Bed & Breakfast accommodation in South Somerset, the spectre of the misery that goes with families in Bed & Breakfast is never far away.
Leader of the Council Ric Pallister said, “I am very proud of the performance of the District Council and its development partners in continuing to deliver record numbers of new homes during difficult economic times. For a long time we’ve been running up the down escalator, trying to keep pace with emerging need and whilst the team have done an absolutely brilliant job in preventing homelessness, I remain very cautious about the future and the numbers of families and individuals who are struggling to make ends meet and may yet be forced to seek our help and advice”