The £9 billion affordable housing programme has been granted a one-year extension by the UK government so that registered housing providers have extra time to deliver housing schemes now that COVID-19 lockdown restrictions are being eased.

The housing secretary, Robert Jenrick has explained that the extension is to make sure that the construction of 53,000 homes that were stalled by the pandemic are no completely lost, according to Property Reporter.

Registered providers (RPs) of affordable housing were required to begin construction on their scheme by March 2022 to qualify, under the £9bn 2016-21 Affordable Homes Programme, but with the extension in place, RPs now have an extra year to start construction without the risk of losing funding.

The confirmation of the one-year extension follows the announcement by the government of the new £12 billion affordable homes programme, that will cover the next five years. According to the government, some of the funding will be used for a 1,500-home pilot of its First Homes scheme, for which new homes would be sold at a 30 per cent discount for first-time buyers.

Mr Jenrick said: “Today I am announcing that we are giving more flexibility to housing associations and councils to help them deliver affordable homes. We’ve listened closely to the sector and agreed that there will now have a longer deadline for using Government funding to get these homes built.”

Housing association bosses last week called on the government to focus on social housing at the heart of its economic recovery plan after publishing evidence of the health effects suffered by people inadequately housed during the lockdown.

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