LGA sets out plan to boost council housebuilding

LGA sets out plan to boost council housebuilding

The outgoing Chairman of the Local Government Association is setting out a six-point plan to which aims to support the delivery of 100 more council homes in every local authority per year.

The shortage has seen rents and property prices rise significantly faster than incomes, acutely impacting the lowest income and vulnerable families and individuals. Recent government measures to lift the housing borrowing cap enable councils to receive preferential Public Works Loan Board borrowing rates and allow councils to keep all Right to Buy receipts for two years. These are positive steps, but more needs to be done, says Cllr James Jamieson, whose four-year term as LGA Chairman ends at the start of its Annual Conference in Bournemouth on Tuesday.

The LGA's six point plan reads:

1. Roll-out five-year local housing deals to all areas of the country that want them by 2025 – combining funding from multiple national housing programmes into a single pot. This will provide the funding, flexibility, certainty and confidence to stimulate housing supply, and will remove national restrictions which stymie innovation and delivery.

2. Government support to set up a new national council housebuilding delivery taskforce, bringing together a team of experts to provide additional capacity and improvement support for housing delivery teams within councils and their partners.
Continued access to preferential borrowing rates through the Public Works Loans Board (PWLB), introduced in the Spring Budget, to support the delivery of social housing and local authorities borrowing for Housing Revenue Accounts.

3. Continued access to preferential borrowing rates through the Public Works Loans Board (PWLB), introduced in the Spring Budget, to support the delivery of social housing and local authorities borrowing for Housing Revenue Accounts.

4. Further reform to Right to Buy which includes allowing councils to retain 100 per cent of receipts on a permanent basis; flexibility to combine Right to Buy receipts with other government grants; the ability to set the size of discounts locally; and the ability to recycle a greater proportion of receipts into building replacement homes paying off housing debt.

5. Review and increase where needed the grant levels per home through the Affordable Homes Programme, as inflationary pressures have caused the cost of building new homes to rise, leaving councils needing grant funding to fund a larger proportion of a new build homes than before.

6. Certainty on future rents, to enable councils to invest. Government must commit to a minimum 10-year rent deal for council landlords to allow a longer period of annual rent increases and long-term certainty.

Cllr Jamieson, said:

“Housing is too often unavailable, unaffordable, and is not appropriate for everyone that needs it. The right homes in the right areas can have significant wider benefits for people and communities, and prevent future public service challenges and costs.

“Addressing the chronic housing shortage must be a national priority. Our six-point plan would lead to a generational step-change in council housebuilding and give local government the powers and funding to deliver thousands of social homes a year– at scale, and fast.

“A genuine renaissance in council housebuilding would unlock local government’s historic role as a major builder of affordable homes, which support strong and healthy communities and help to build prosperous places.”

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