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Affordable housing 'needed to kick-start the economy'

The construction of more affordable housing across the UK has been highlighted as a key driver of economic recovery in the UK.

David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, told listeners to the BBC's Wake Up to Money podcast that more than a quarter of a million new homes are needed across the UK to help ease the country's ongoing housing crisis, but at present this quota is not being met.

Just 98,000 new homes were built across the country in the 12 months to June this year, with Mr Orr noting a step-up in construction levels could help deliver greater employment and be a significant spur to economic growth in the future.

He commented: "If we want to be able to house people at all sections of the economy, people in low-paid employment as well as the wealthy, we do have to provide a housing solution at low-cost. Otherwise, people will just be completely excluded."

Mr Orr added that the government's Affordable Rent programme has already pledged to create an additional 170,000 affordable properties by 2015, but more new projects are needed in the pipeline to further meet growing demand.

"If we can get house building going, it will not only build the new homes which are absolutely critical but it does give a real kick-start to the economy," he stated.

Earlier this month, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) released in-depth statistical data regarding the UK's social housing sector for the first time.

In it, the HCA revealed 2,586,115 affordable homes exist across the UK at present - a 2.4 per cent rise on levels seen in 2011.

Furthermore, vacancy levels in these properties fell by 0.1 per cent to 1.4 per cent over the last 12 months and average gross rent - including any service charges eligible for housing benefit - now stands at £86.27 per week. 

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