100,000 social homes a year needed as part of COVID-19 recovery, say councils

By agency reporter
June 22, 2020

A post-pandemic building boom of 100,000 affordable homes a year is needed to provide housing fit for social care, health and other key workers who have fought coronavirus on the frontline and the families of those who lost their lives, a new report by the Local Government Association (LGA) sets out.

The LGA says councils must be given the powers to build thousands more desperately-needed council homes, where they are locally needed and spearhead the national recovery from the virus.

Not only will this boost the supply of affordable housing, it will also enable the country to get building again following a downturn in construction as a result of many house builders closing their sites.

In a new report, Delivery of Council Housing – Developing a Stimulus Package Post-Pandemic, the LGA sets out a range of key issues and recommendations to government to deliver a new major building programme of social homes, including:

  • The Government should expand council housing delivery by bringing forward and increasing the £12 billion extension of the Affordable Homes Programme announced in the Budget earlier this year, with an increased focus on homes for social rent.
     
  • Right to Buy should be reformed with councils able to retain 100 per cent of receipts from the sale of homes under the scheme, the deadline to spend the money from sales should be extended to at least five years, and councils need the power to set the size of discounts locally.
     
  • To increase the capacity of the building industry, which will have suffered following coronavirus, a skills and jobs strategy is needed to meet the needs of accelerating a social housing building programme.

The LGA said delivering 100,000 new high-quality social homes each year would also bring significant benefits to the national economy.

Research for the LGA and partners has found that investment in a new generation of social housing could return £320 billion to the nation over 50 years. It also found that every £1 invested in a new social home generates £2.84 in the wider economy with every new social home generating a saving of £780 a year in housing benefit.

A large-scale social house-building programme, supported by the required infrastructure and services, would also help meet the Government’s 300,000 new homes a year target, and alleviate pressures on health and social care that result from poor housing conditions. It would also help realise the Government’s ambition of providing 6,000 new homes for rough sleepers taken off the streets during the pandemic.

Cllr David Renard, LGA housing spokesman, said: “As the nation comes through the biggest crisis we have faced since the Second World War, we owe it to the health, care and other essential public service workers, who have risked their lives to keep the country running to provide them with affordable, high-quality homes fit for heroes.

“The Government should let councils take charge of the housing recovery, by giving them the powers and tools to build more of the affordable homes the country desperately needs.

“A programme of 100,000 social homes a year would not only meet a third of the Government’s house-building target, but it would generate a range of social and economic benefits.

“Now is the time for a genuine renaissance in council house-building that reduces homelessness, gets people off the streets for good, supports people’s wellbeing and is climate-friendly.”

The report says that:

  • Every £1 invested in a social home generates £2.84 in the wider economy 
  • Every new social home would generate a saving of £780 per year in housing benefit
  • Investment in 100,000 new social homes per year could return £320 billion to the nation over 50 years

* Read Delivery of Council Housing – Developing a Stimulus Package Post-Pandemic here

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

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