LGA Housing spokesman, Cllr Martin Tett, responds to a report by the Public Accounts Committee warning that the Government’s housebuilding target is in “jeopardy”.
“The last time the country built more than 300,000 homes a year was 1977/78, when councils built 44 per cent of them. Latest figures show councils were only able to build 2,000 homes last year – the highest level since 1992 – but need to be able to do so much more. To help end the housing crisis, we need to kick-start a genuine renaissance in council house building.
“While it was good the Government accepted our call to scrap the Housing Revenue Account borrowing cap, it now needs to go further in the Spending Review by devolving Right to Buy so councils retain 100 per cent of their receipts and can set discounts locally, and allowing councils to set their own planning fees.
“The planning system is not a barrier to housebuilding – with councils approving nine in 10 applications, and hundreds of thousands of homes given planning permission but yet to be built.
“Councils are committed to building the homes that communities need and that are appropriate for the local environment. Local plans underpin the local democratic planning process and involve significant engagement and building of trust with a range of local partners and the community. However, they can be difficult and expensive to establish. Government needs to make it easier for councils to get up-to-date plans in place, by giving them sufficient funding and resources, and scrapping the policies, including permitted development rights, which allow developers to ignore community needs and undermine local plans.”
Notes to editors
Councils in England face an overall funding gap of £8 billion by 2025. The LGA’s #CouncilsCan campaign aims to influence the forthcoming Spending Review and highlight the growing risk to vital local services if the Government does not take action to secure the financial sustainability of councils.
#CouncilsCan: Spending Review 2019
With the right funding and powers, councils can continue to lead local areasimprove residents’ lives, reduce demand for public services and save money for the taxpayer. Securing the financial sustainability of local services must be the top priority for the Spending Review.