LGA responds to social housing Green Paper

By agency reporter
August 15, 2018

Responding to the Government’s social housing green paper, Cllr Judith Blake, Local Government Association Housing spokesperson, said: “This green paper is a step towards delivering more social homes but it is only a small step, compared with the huge and immediate need for more genuinely affordable homes.

“There is a desperate need to reverse the decline in council housing over the past few decades. The loss of social housing means that we are spending more and more on housing benefit to supplement expensive rents instead of investing in genuinely affordable homes. It has also come alongside an increase in homelessness, with 79,000 families, and almost 125,000 children, stuck in temporary accommodation.

“Councils are proud of their housing and their tenants and continually work to improve how they empower their tenants to achieve a positive and responsive relationship. However, they need the freedoms and powers to invest in new and existing housing that communities want for themselves and their children.

“The Government must go beyond the limited measures announced so far, scrap the housing borrowing cap, and enable all councils, across the country, to borrow to build once more. This would trigger the renaissance in council house-building which will help people to access genuinely affordable housing.

“We have long called for reforms to Right to Buy in order to allow councils to build more homes, and there are some positive signs in the consultation. But we must go much further so that councils can deliver the affordable homes that our residents need and deserve, including allowing councils to set discounts locally and to keep 100 per cent of receipts from homes sold.

“It is good that the Government has listened to our concerns and dropped plans to force the sale of council homes. We have worked hard to demonstrate the need to scrap this policy which would have forced councils to sell off large numbers of the homes desperately needed by low-income families in our communities.”

In 1997, over a third of households lived in council housing, compared with just one in 10 today. As a result, more and more individuals and families are finding themselves pushed into an often more expensive and less secure private rented sector.

In the last six years, more than 60,000 homes have been sold off under the Right to Buy scheme at a price which is, on average, half the market rate, leaving councils with enough funding to build or buy just 14,000 new homes to replace them.

Around 12,224 homes were sold under Right to Buy last year. Faced with ongoing borrowing restrictions and based on the levels of sales remaining consistent, recent analysis for the LGA estimates that in 2023 councils would only be able to replace approximately 2,000 of these homes.

Just 2.48 per cent of homes built in 2016/17 were designated for social rent – down from 3.59 per cent of all homes built the year previously.

The LGA  has published a report Housing, Planning and Homelessness in which it sets out how it beleives the Government can empower councils to trigger a renaissance in council housebuilding to fix the housing market.

* Download the social housing Green Paper here

* Read Housing, planning and homelessness: Moving the conversation on here

* Local Government Association https://www.local.gov.uk/

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