Javid: Government should borrow to build more homes

23 Oct 17

The government should borrow money to build more homes, according to the communities secretary. 

Sajid Javid said the government should “take advantage” of low interest rates to fund a major house building programme, speaking on the Andrew Marr show on Sunday.

“What I want to do is makes sure we’re using everything I have available to deal with the housing crisis,” Javid told Marr. 

He said: "[Where] we can sensibly borrow more to invest in the infrastructure that leads to more housing, take advantage of some of the record low interest rates that we have, I think we should absolutely be considering that.”

The Sun newspaper reported that a £50bn figure has been requested by Javid from the Treasury. 

Javid hinted that the government could be shifting its policy on borrowing money when pressed if chancellor Philip Hammond was on board with the idea. He answered: “Let's wait and see what happens in the Budget.”

But when approached by Public Finance for comment a spokesperson for the DCLG said: “We will not be drawn into speculation about the Budget.”

This comes after the government announced an extra £2bn for affordable housing at the Tory party conference.

John Healey, Labour’s shadow housing minister, said: “If hot air built homes, ministers would have fixed our housing crisis.”

Javid also said the government was “working out” the best way to help councils carry out essential fire-safety improvements in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy.

But he declined to say whether this would mean providing extra funding for the changes, such as retrofitting sprinkler systems in council-owned blocks.

As previously reported by PF fire-safety improvements could cost councils millions and the government has yet to confirm whether it would provide extra funds for cash-strapped councils seeking financial support to carry out safety changes on social housing stock.

Javid said on Sunday: “We will make sure that any essential work by any local authority will get the support they need to make sure it is done. That is the most important thing - that it gets done.”

Last week Communities and Local Government department also announced a crackdown on unfair managing agents who overcharge leaseholders and tenants for repairs and services in England.

The government is consulting on whether to overhaul the regulation of the sector, which could see the formation of an independent regulatory body.

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