September 18, 2018 / 9:36 PM / a month ago

Affordable housing to get 2 billion pound boost in UK, PM May says

(Reuters) - Britain’s government will invest 2 billion pounds ($2.6 billion) to address an affordable housing shortage, Prime Minister Theresa May will say on Wednesday.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May speaks at the United Jewish Israel Appeal charity dinner in London, Britain, September 17, 2018. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/Pool

House-building has been a stated priority as the government tries to answer voter concerns about a lack of affordable housing in many areas following decades when house prices have risen much faster than incomes.

The government will provide the funding for housing associations, not-for-profit organizations which provide the bulk of affordable homes in the United Kingdom. The new funding will be allocated over a period of up to 10 years, far longer than the three or four years that has been common.

Addressing the National Housing Federation Summit, May will say: “It will give you the stability you need to get tens of thousands of affordable and social homes built where they are needed most, and make it easier for you to leverage the private finance you need to build many more.”

May is keen to show that her government is working on more than Brexit, which dominates the agenda as Britain prepares to leave the European Union on March 29, 2019.

The National Housing Federation welcomed the changes:

“For years, the way that money was allocated meant housing associations couldn’t be sure of long-term funding to build much-needed affordable housing,” said David Orr, its chief executive.

“By changing the way in which they allocate funding, ministers have given long-term confidence.”

May said housing associations should use their “unique status, rich history and social mission” to change the way tenants and society as a whole view social housing and remove the stigma attached to them.

($1 = 0.7613 pounds)

Reporting by Elisabeth O'Leary; Editing by Robin Pomeroy

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