LGA calls for housebuilding “renaissance” for councils

28 Jul 16

Councils should be reinstated as major builders of affordable housing to assuage the deepening housing crisis, a report by the Local Government Association has argued.

The research, published today by the group, analysed the potential future demand for affordable housing in the UK, set against a national shortage of new homes.

In the analysis, the LGA claims that millions of people will not be able to afford “somewhere decent to live” by 2024, and will need access to affordable housing ­– including social and affordable rent – despite being in work.  

Meanwhile, increasing economic uncertainty in the wake of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, is likely to drive demand for affordable homes even higher, according to the report.

In light of this, the umbrella group reiterated its call for the government to allow councils to resume their “historic role” as major builders of new homes.

The analysis found that at least 3.98 million people of working age will still need access to affordable housing options by 2024. According to the report, this will be the case even if the country achieves full employment by “upskilling 3.5m people to take higher paid jobs which the economy has been projected to create.”

It also found that 5.4 million people of working age are likely to need access to affordable housing by 2024 if qualification levels to not increase. Moreover, the demand for housing will be higher if the economy fails to create the projected skills.

Among the recommendations made by the association are: giving councils increased freedom to borrow under the Housing Revenue Account in order to invest in housing; to allow councils to keep all of the receipts from properties sold through Right-to-Buy and to build new homes; and, to count the value of council land in building replacements.

Also, the LGA is urging government to work with councils to review how different aspects of the controversial Housing and Planning Act could be implemented in the wake of the economic uncertainty following the Brexit vote.

LGA housing spokesman Peter Box said: “More and more families will be affected by our housing crisis every year. As our analysis shows, millions of people studying hard and succeeding in work will also no longer be able to find an affordable and decent place to live in.”

Following the Brexit vote, bold action was required and “a renaissance in house building by councils must be at the heart of this.”

Box acknowledged the role the private sector had to play in solving the housing crisis, but said it could not achieve it alone. He also warned the private sector would be “further restricted by uncertainties in the months and years ahead.”

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