Responding to the measures on housing announced in the Budget, Cllr Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s Housing spokesman, said:
“The LGA has long called for councils to be given greater freedom to borrow to build new homes and today’s Budget has taken a step towards that by lifting the housing borrowing cap for some councils. This is an important recognition of our argument about the vital role that councils must play to boost homes for local families in need and solve our housing crisis.
“There are other measures in the Budget that will make a difference, especially more funding for Land Assembly, the Housing Infrastructure Fund and for SME builders. These are all measures councils have been making a case for.
“Planning is simply not a barrier to housing growth. Councils approve nine out of 10 applications and are doing all they can to deliver affordable homes with wider local services and infrastructure. The single biggest measure that the Government could take to speed up the planning process would be to cover the cost of processing applications for councils.
“The LGA has also consistently called for councils to have the powers to make sure that sites that receive planning permission become homes in our communities. We look forward to contributing to the forthcoming Letwin Review, and will make a vigorous case for councils to be given the strongest powers possible to make sure that developers are held to account.
“Allowing councils to charge more for empty homes is another positive step, but we’d like the Government to go further and give councils more flexibility on other council tax discounts and valuation bands.
“Our national housing shortage is one of the most pressing issues we face. The last time this country built the homes it needed each year, in the 1970s, councils built more than 40 per cent of them. Councils were trusted to get on and build homes that their communities needed, and they delivered.
“If we are to truly get back to building 300,000 homes a year, then the Government needs to ensure all areas of the country can borrow to invest, so that they can resume their role as major builders of affordable homes.”