Government review to ask how more social homes can be built
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Central Government and also in Development, Housing
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The government has launched an independent review into how more social homes can be built.
The study will assess if councils are making sufficient use of their existing powers to deliver new social housing, and ask if local authorities could use their property portfolio more effectively to finance housebuilding by selling expensive vacant properties and using the receipts to build new affordable homes.
The review will also consider how councils can work more closely with housing associations, housebuilders and businesses to build more new homes.
Jointly announced by Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, and the communities secretary, Eric Pickles, the review will be led by Natalie Elphicke, chair of Million Homes, Million Lives, and Keith House, leader of Eastleigh Borough Council.
The government says that the review's chairs will also ensure it gives adequate consideration to new freedoms and flexibilities which could be given to councils to deliver new social housing.
Danny Alexander said: “The government is on track to deliver 170,000 new affordable homes over this parliament, and from next year we will be building new affordable homes at the fastest rate for 20 years.
“I am, however, determined that we do even more to support affordable and good quality housing in the UK. That is why we have announced this new review into the role local authorities can play in helping to meet our housing needs and I am delighted that Natalie and Keith have agreed to lead this.”
Eric Pickles said: “The coalition government has got Britain building again. Housebuilding is now at its highest level since 2007 and construction orders are growing at the fastest rate for 10 years. But there is still more to do.
"Our reforms have already untied the hands of councils so they can take more responsibility for housing in their area. This review will now consider if extra freedoms and financial flexibilities could be devolved to councils, so they can build more homes that local people need."
According to the government, the review will build on a number of significant and innovative reforms it has already put in place to support more new homes in local communities.
Natalie Elphicke said: “More council houses have been built since 2010 than in the previous decade. Our review will look at whether more can be done to help councils to deliver more homes for their communities.”
Councillor Keith House said: “Local authorities have a vital role in contributing to housing supply of all tenures. Our review will test how councils are meeting that challenge and where there is potential for innovation and creativity to increase the number of new homes built.”
Gavin Smart, director of policy and practice at the Chartered Institute of Housing, said: “We are in the grip of a housing crisis, with millions of people being denied access to a decent home at a price they can afford. Given the scale of that crisis, a review of the role councils can play in boosting the number of homes being built is timely – we look forward to hearing more details of the review and making a contribution.
"We think local authorities should be allowed to borrow more so they can build more homes – we were pleased to see the chancellor acknowledging this principle in last year’s autumn statement, but the steps announced were far too modest. Increasing local authority borrowing caps by £7 billion, rather than £300 million, would allow councils to build 75,000 new homes over five years, creating 23,500 jobs and creating £5.6 billion of economic activity.”
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