Housing and Planning, House of Commons, 3 March 2020

We are calling on the Government to use the Budget to give councils the tools and powers they need to resume their historic role as major housebuilders of good, quality affordable homes for social rent, and to invest in homelessness prevention.


KEY MESSAGES

  • Councils are working hard to deliver new homes and recent reports suggest that local authority house building programmes are on track to exceed government estimates. Council engagement and delivery will be key if the government is to meet their stated target of building 300,000 homes a year. The last time we built at least 250,000 homes a year, councils delivered more than 40 per cent of them. Local government has an important role to play in achieving this ambition both as leaders of place through the planning system and as builders of homes in their own right.
  • Through its sector-led improvement offer, the LGA helps councils improve performance, become more efficient and effective, and share good practice.  As part of that offer, we provide a Housing Advisers Programme which supports councils seeking to innovate in meeting the housing needs of their communities. In the previous three years of the Programme, we have funded over 170 councils to help councils build homes, reduce homelessness, plan for population ageing, understand the student housing market, increase supply of modular housing and develop approaches to decarbonising homes.
  • It is vital that the local plan-led system is protected, so that councils and the communities they represent have a say over the way places develop. This is the best way to ensure homes are built to a high standard, with the necessary infrastructure, and that affordable housing is provided. Planning departments need to be properly resourced and allowed to set their own planning fees. Taxpayers are currently subsidising a £200 million annual bill to cover funding shortfalls.
  • Council housebuilding and reform to Right to Buy to put it on a more sustainable footing, are both critical to boosting the supply of new homes. Councils should be given additional flexibilities and funding to build desperately needed affordable homes. They should be able to: keep 100 per cent of Right to Buy receipts to reinvest in new homes, set Right to Buy discounts locally and be able to combine receipts with national grant funding.
  • Since the removal of the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) borrowing cap in 2018, 94 per cent of housing stock-owning councils have said they will use the new powers to increase housebuilding. Recent analysis shows that councils are planning to build over 77,000 homes in the next five years and have completed around 19,000 net additions in the last 5 years.
  • Councils, housing associations and the development industry need to work together to build homes of all tenures so that everyone has the opportunity to live in a safe and secure home that they can afford. The building of homes at social rent is at an historic low, leading to more and more families being pushed into the insecure private rented sector. Social housing should be treated as a vital national investment and seen as a desirable long-term option for a home.
  • We are calling on the Government to use the Budget to give councils the tools and powers they need to resume their historic role as major housebuilders of good, quality affordable homes for social rent, and to invest in homelessness prevention.

Read the full briefing.

LGA Briefing Housing and Planning, House of Commons, 3 March 2020