The government’s housing secretary has refused to rule out changes to affordable housing policy which could impact the number built in Devon.

Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw questioned Simon Clarke, secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities, about reports the government was considering raising the threshold at which affordable homes are required.

Currently at least 10 per cent of major developments (10+ houses) should be made ‘affordable’ – classed as up to 80 per cent of local market rates. According to The Times, this threshold could be increased to schemes with at least 40 or 50 homes.

The specific proportion of homes set aside for affordable use is set individually by local councils. In Exeter the rate is 35 per cent, subject to viability and feasibility.

Speaking in the Commons on Monday [17 October], Labour’s Mr Bradshaw claimed: “One of the things that has helped my local authority to become the best in the south west in providing affordable housing to buy and to rent is the power to require private developers to provide a proportion of housing that is affordable.”

He asked: “Will the secretary of state reassure me that worrying reports that the government are considering raising the threshold for that requirement are not true?”

Tory MP Mr Clarke responded: “We are looking at all the options that are open to us to try to accelerate house building across the country. We want to make sure that the right incentives are in place for developers to build.

“The reality is that we want to look at all those options. We have consulted on that particular option before, and we have decided not to do it. It is an issue that we keep under review, but the reasons that applied in our decision not to proceed then are very powerful.”

Last year, the Conservative leader of the county council declared Devon was in a housing crisis, with some house prices among the highest in the country and a lack of rental properties preventing key workers moving to the area.

More private rented accommodation is also being converted to short-term holiday lets, reducing the amount available for local families.

Thousands of people are on housing waiting lists in Devon, including nearly 3,000 on Exeter City Council’s housing register.

The government is also said to be considering an expansion to ‘permitted development rights’ which enable people to build extensions or add extra floors to their homes without needing planning permission.