The number of affordable homes which saw construction begin on site in England in 2019-20 has risen 13% year-on-year, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The quantity of affordable homes completed increased by 1% over the same timeframe.

Breaking the data down, affordable housing for rent, including social, affordable and intermediate rent, represented 65% of completions and 56% of all starts.

ONS: Property prices rise by 4.7%

Looking back to 2015-16, the number of affordable homes for rent represented 77% of completions and 75% of all starts.

Just over half (52%) of all affordable homes delivered in 2019-20 were funded through section 106 (nil grant) agreements, higher than in previous years.

In addition, 92% of affordable homes delivered in England were new-build.

Olu Olufote, founder of RenterBuyer, said: “The small 1% increase in the number of affordable home completions last year is consistent with previous years but the impact of the pandemic during 2020 would suggest worse figures to come for the year to March 2021.

“We can also expect to see a big slowdown in construction that might offset the 13% increase in the number of starts on site.

“The data also shows that 65% of the affordable homes are only available for rent and not for sale to new homeowners.

“Nothing is worse than being stuck renting when you really want to own, but until we start building more affordable homes that people can actually purchase, house prices will remain high and affordability a massive obstacle.

“Affordability is a particular issue for millennial first-time buyers, who are faced with a further widening of the gap between average house prices and average wages.

“If there’s any good news, it’s that there are a number of government initiatives designed to help aspiring homeowners, including stamp guty reliefs, help-to-buy schemes and various saving schemes.

“To boost housing supply, more still needs to be done to relax planning rules and the Government could also do more to help fund innovative new construction methods for affordable housing.

“The other issue for prospective homeowners, especially in the current climate, is mortgage finance, which is as rare as hens’ teeth for anyone with less than a 15% deposit.”