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Overhaul of shared ownership 'could double supply'

An overhaul of the rules surrounding shared ownership could help to ease the UK's shortage of affordable homes.This is according to a new report from the Orbit Group and the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH), which estimates such changes could double the existing supply of shared homes to 30,000 - roughly 13 per cent of the 240,000 properties England needs each year. The report, which will be published in full in February, calls for shared ownership to become the fourth mainstream housing tenure alongside homeownership, social housing and the private rented sector.It follows on from a focus on shared ownership in the Autumn Statement and the launch of a government consultation on the issue.Paul Tennant, chief executive of the Orbit Group, stated: "Shared ownership has huge strengths as a product. But the housing market has changed a lot since it was launched and we need to refresh the product, remove some complexities, commit to long-term investment and ensure it is fit for purpose in the world of 2015. "This will help it reach scale and maximise its potential at a time when it's needed more than ever."Mr Tennant said it is important to make sure that shared housing is attractive to the public, developers and investors, if its benefits are to be realised. CIH deputy chief executive Gavin Smart said the approach can help to tackle the problem of the 'squeezed middle' - people who are unable to afford the cost of a mortgage, but do not qualify for social housing. He claimed that for the majority of these individuals, the private rented sector is the only option and while this might be right for some, it is important that they have an alternative. Mr Smart said new and innovative solutions are needed if the housing crisis is to be resolved and increasing the importance of shared housing is one such approach. According to the report, less than two-fifths of families on low incomes can currently afford a two-bedroom home with a 90 per cent mortgage.  

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