Consultation launched on proposed changes to the Definition of Affordable Housing

Date published: 24 June 2019


The Department for Communities has launched a public consultation on proposed changes to the definition of Affordable Housing.

The move is aimed at improving access to suitable housing and therefore contributing to reducing housing stress.

The draft Programme for Government (PfG) 2016-2021 recognised that housing challenges are broader than the need for social housing and Government must reflect wider housing needs and demands.

The current definition of affordable housing was drafted to reflect the affordable housing products available at the time of its development, namely social housing and shared ownership housing.

The Department considers that it is now timely to provide a revised definition of affordable housing which incorporates a wider range of intermediate housing products.  The new definition of affordable housing will not impact on access to social housing.

The establishment of a new and broader definition of affordable housing would be able to take into account the needs of a wide range of groups, some of whom are not currently finding their needs adequately met by the market.

It would also provide the framework for housing associations and other potential affordable housing delivery partners to commence work to develop new products for affordable housing that would in turn enable government to further meet housing needs and demand, thereby reducing housing stress.

This consultation paper captures the Department’s initial thoughts as to what a new definition of affordable housing might look like.  The proposed definition being:-

‘Affordable housing is housing provided for sale or rent outside of the general market, for those whose needs are not met by the market. Affordable housing which is funded by Government must remain affordable or, alternatively, there must be provision for the public subsidy to be repaid or recycled in the provision of new affordable housing.’

The Department is keen to test its thinking more widely on this issue and would encourage anyone with an interest in this topic to offer their thoughts on the issues raised within this paper.

The consultation will run from 24 June 2019 to 13 September 2019. 

A copy of the consultation and all associated documents can be found at:

Notes to editors: 

  1. Hard copies of the consultation package can be requested by e-mailing or by writing to the following address:

Housing Supply Branch

Causeway Exchange

1-7 Bedford Street




  1. Media enquiries should be directed to the DfC Press Office on 028 90823516 or e-mail  Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer on 028 90378110. 



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