BUILDING work on affordable homes in Bromsgrove has been reduced as the pandemic was blamed for a slowdown in schemes across England.

Homes England data shows building started or was completed on 30 affordable homes in Bromsgrove in 2020-21 – 35 fewer than the previous year.

However, the number of schemes was higher than 2017-18, when 25 affordable homes started being built or were delivered.

Homes England is sponsored by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to fund new affordable housing schemes.

Of the schemes finished in the year to March, 18 affordable homes were completed in the area, including 12 affordable rentals and six social rentals.

Housing charity Shelter says with over a million households in England on the waiting list for a social home, any drop in affordable house building was a big problem.

Polly Neate, the charity's chief executive, said: "If this slowdown continues because developers lose confidence, the dream of a safe and secure future gets even further out of reach for many.

"This just shows that we can’t only rely on private developers to build the housing we need – the Government needs to pull its weight and start building homes itself too.

"By investing in a new generation of social housing, it could provide families with genuinely affordable homes while also supporting the construction industry and boosting the economy.”

Peter Freeman, Homes England chairman, said he was confident the housing sector would recover, thanks also to a new £12 billion Government-backed scheme to develop affordable housing.

He added: “The statistics show that we’ve kept making homes happen despite the huge impact of Covid-19 on the housing industry.

"We know there are still hurdles to overcome but we’re encouraged by recent data to suggest the sector is recovering well."

Across England, 28,191 affordable homes were started in 2020-21 – 21% fewer than the previous year.

The proportion of affordable homes completed also dropped by 15%, to 24,023.