“Generational step-change” needed in council housebuilding

Every area in England should be handed a new local housing deal by 2025 which combines funding from multiple national housing programmes into a single pot to spark a “generational step-change” in council housebuilding.

Every area in England should be handed a new local housing deal by 2025 which combines funding from multiple national housing programmes into a single pot to spark a “generational step-change” in council housebuilding, the outgoing Chairman of the Local Government Association says today.

Cllr James Jamieson, whose four-year term as LGA Chairman ends at the start of its Annual Conference in Bournemouth – is setting out a six-point plan to deliver on council ambitions that could over time support the delivery of 100 more council homes in every local authority per year.

Over recent decades, construction of new homes has failed to keep pace with population growth and social changes. At the same time, there are currently not enough affordable homes to meet current demand with more than 1.2 million households on council waiting lists in England and over 100,000 households living in temporary accommodation.

This housing 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 are positive steps in the right direction to boosting the supply of social housing.

The LGA said more needs to be done to rapidly build more genuinely affordable homes to help families struggling to meet housing costs, provide homes to rent, reduce homelessness and tackle the housing waiting lists many councils have

It is calling for the Government to go further and faster in order for councils to be able to properly resume their historic role as a major builder of affordable homes by implementing a six-point plan for social housing.

  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.
  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.”

Notes to editors

The three-day LGA Annual Conference begins in Bournemouth on Tuesday. Speakers include Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove MP, Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer MP, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan MP and Liberal Democrat Leader Sir Ed Davey MP.

Visit our Annual Conference website to view the full programme. To book your place, please contact [email protected] for a media promotion code which you can use to obtain a complimentary pass.