The State provides financial support to housing costs through tax foregone, direct housing provision and direct subsidies, grants and allowances.
Housing Finance Agency
The Housing Finance Agency is a state organisation that was designed to tap financial markets in order to advance funds to local authorities for the purpose of loans under the Housing Act. The agency advances loans to local authorities for their housing functions and also lends to individual housing bodies and voluntary organizations.
The HFA may transfer the benefit of the loans in its portfolio. The State guarantees the borrowings of the HFA.
Local Authority Mortgages
Formerly, local authorities provided mortgage finance for the purchase of residential properties. Since the 1970s, the proportion of local authority financing houses has reduced considerably as building societies, banks, and other financial institutions became the principal providers of housing finance.
State loans were restricted in the 1980s to those who were unable to secure a commercial mortgage loan. Former income-based mortgages were replaced by normal prepayment mortgages completely in the 1990s. The number of local authority mortgages has declined very significantly, so it now represents a small part only of the housing market.
Tenant Purchase Scheme
Commencing in the 1970s but accelerating through the 1980s and 1990s, the vast majority of local authority-constructed houses were sold to tenants on favourable terms. Such homes represent over one-quarter of owner-occupied houses.
Different tenant purchase schemes have been made over the years. Each involved a substantial discount on the market price linked to the number of years of tenancy. Owners also benefited from the first-time buyers grant and various other subsidies and discounts.
Affordable and Shared Ownership
A number of affordable housing and shared ownership schemes were developed in the late 1980s and ’90s. Under the schemes, the owners acquired a long lease, but at a rent at a certain portion, usually meeting 50 per cent of the market rent. In this sense, the ownership was shared, and the notional share owed by the State was realised.
The various schemes were subjected to qualifications, including income levels and maximum prices. The schemes were designed to recoup the State share housing authority share upon sale.