Developing an affordable housing strategy in Newcastle

We helped Newcastle City Council review its affordable housing stock and tenant pathways. 

Newcastle has a relatively large supply of social housing stock, as well as a substantial number of tenants housed in private rental sector accommodation (PRS). Affordable housing makes up a large section of this housing, providing accessibility to housing for many of Newcastle residents.

In 2019, Newcastle City Council commissioned us to provide a robust and credible assessment of the city’s affordable housing stock. Our study profiled the views and opinions of existing and prospective customers to inform the council’s plans for developing affordable housing that fulfils the needs of all Newcastle’s residents. 

Why did we do this?

Access to stable, good quality housing is a social determinant of mental and physical health. When the availability of affordable housing falls, data shows that the risk of poverty, unemployment and lower educational attainment increase. 

Affordable housing aims to ensure that households from all economic standings can buy or rent a property at a reasonable price. At Social Finance, we continue to play a facilitating role in the housing sector, helping local authorities to promote accessibility to decent affordable housing to give people in need a chance to thrive.

As in all towns and cities, the housing needs and preferences of Newcastle residents are complex. Successfully planning for future affordable housing provision required an understanding of how people’s motivations and concerns impact their choice of housing and shape housing markets.

  • To provide a robust and credible assessment of affordable housing in Newcastle, including the profile of existing and prospective customers.
  • To provide part of the evidence base to inform future development of affordable housing that meets the needs of all the city’s residents.

What we did

Newcastle City Council is working together with other North of Tyne local authorities to increase the number of new homes built per year across the region to 3,000 by 2032. When this study was commissioned, it was looking to build an evidence base to support continuous investment in affordable housing to achieve this plan over the next decade. 

Our approach was founded on a mixed-methods research methodology that supplemented existing council data with the opinions and preferences of city residents. In collaboration with Newcastle City Council officers, we designed, tested and carried out a survey that built a detailed picture of the interactions between housing preferences and supply and demand. The findings of the survey were supplemented by resident interviews and focus groups held with residents of high-rise, sheltered and general needs housing. 

Our analysis provided the council with additional insight into issues that influence satisfaction with housing, including how council-owned housing is perceived, why people move homes, and whether people are satisfied with their home’s location and size. It also enhanced the council’s understanding of the scale of the housing need and included an appraisal of the potential barriers to accessing council-owned housing in the city. 

Impact and insights

The Housing Insights and Investment study highlighted the benefits of secure tenancy and responsive maintenance to stable and cost-effective management of housing stock. It generated a service of recommendations to improve accessibility to affordable housing for Newcastle residents. Newcastle City Council accepted our recommendations and has begun implementing strategies to update its affordable housing stock. 

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