LGA: government must help councils to ensure better new-build homes

18 Aug 17

The government must aid a ‘renaissance in council housebuilding’ to help improve the quality of new homes, the Local Government Association said today.

One in 10 new home buyers in England were satisfied with their new home and one in six would not recommend their housebuilder to a friend, according to analysis commissioned by the membership body. 

Local authorities must be able to keep 100% of the receipts of any homes they sell to ensure a ‘national  renaissance’ of house building, the LGA stated.

This push for local authority-built homes would be "central to solving our housing shortage and improving quality," the organisation believed. 

Central government should “help councils build a new generation of high quality, genuinely affordable and additional homes, supported by adequate infrastructure and services,” it added. 

The LGA also highlighted, in 2016 the country spent nearly as much maintaining old housing stock as it does on building new homes, £27bn and £35bn respectively.

The research revealed most parts of the country have more homes built before 1930 then from any other period of time, demonstrating the age of much of England’s housing stock.

At the rate at which homes are being built, each home will need to last 2,000 years to meet housing needs, the analysis suggested.

Judith Blake, LGA housing spokesperson, said: “Our country’s failure to build enough homes over the past few decades is putting huge pressure on our existing housing stock.

“Families are having to spend more on rent or mortgages every month and deserve a decent home that is affordable. But as costs are rising, so is dissatisfaction with the standards of new homes.”

At present councils’ Housing Revenue Accounts have a borrowing cap and they retain only part of money raised from selling new Right to Buy homes.

The body, which represents 415 authorities in England and Wales, stated housebuilders needed to work with authorities to ensure new homes are built to a good quality, and will stand the test of time.

With increasing numbers of people in the private rented sector, council leaders were also concerned that 28% of privately rented homes are not decent, an increase of 150,000 homes since 2006, the LGA explained, quoting figures from the English Housing Survey.

In comparison, council homes are more likely to be better quality, with 85% meeting the decent homes standard, an increase from 70% in 2008.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders, said “The Housing White Paper quite rightly emphasised the need to diversify the housebuilding sector so it is less reliant on a small number of large house building companies to build our homes."

The government should lower VAT to 5% on all domestic refurbishment work to encourage people to properly maintain their properties, according to the FMB.

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