The long-term commitment to increased provision of social housing to help to reduce housing costs, homelessness and housing benefit expenditure

House of Lords, 31 January 2019

Key messages   

  • The housing shortage is one of the most pressing issues we face. Councils have a key role in delivering more affordable housing and helping to build 300,000 new homes a year. The last time this country built at least 250,000 homes a year, councils delivered more than 40 per cent of them.
  • The social housing green paper is a positive step from the Government. However, we would like to see a firmer commitment to building more social homes. Recent estimates show that investment in a new generation of social housing could return £320 billion to the nation over 50 years.
  • It is fantastic that the Government has accepted our long-standing call to scrap the housing borrowing cap. The Government has estimated this will lead up to 9,000 new homes a year. This is a significant contribution to the estimated 100,000 social homes a year needed.   
  • Councils want to encourage home ownership, without a corresponding decline in the number of social rented homes. As a result of the sale of homes through Right to Buy, local authorities have lost enough homes to house the population of Oxford in the last five years.   
  • It is essential that the Government enables councils to keep 100 per cent of receipts from Right to Buy (RTB) sales to invest in new affordable housing.  
  • Homelessness is a tragedy for all those it affects and is one of the most visible signs of the nation’s housing crisis. Councils are providing temporary housing for over 82,000 households, including over 123,000 children.
  • The Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is paid to low-income families in the private rented sector to help with high housing costs. To prevent homelessness, we are calling for the LHA freeze to be lifted entirely, and for the Government to provide more affordable social housing.
  • Councils face an overall funding gap of £3.1 billion in 2019/20, which we estimate will rise to £8 billion by 2024/25. It is vital that the Government uses the 2019 Spending Review to deliver truly sustainable funding for local government.