A three point-action plan for tackling the worst housing shortage in a generation has been launched by councils in England and Wales.
In a letter to Housing Minister Grant Shapps, the Local Government Association (LGA) has said that councils are “desperate to do more” to tackle the housing crisis but that Whitehall first needs to remove some of the unnecessary restrictions holding them back.
At its annual conference this week, the LGA will be holding the official launch of its ‘Housing the Nation’ campaign calling on Government to release the potential of local government to provide more housing.
The LGA, which represents more than 350 councils in England and Wales, has identified three key steps government needs to take to allow councils to tackle the housing crisis head on.
- Helping overcome public opposition by giving councils the power to secure and invest sufficient money in new roads, parks, schools and GP surgeries and infrastructure to support new communities. This should include Government dropping its proposal to compel councils to reconsider Section 106 agreements which have previously agreed by developers.
- Giving councils more financial freedom. Councils want Government to remove the housing borrowing cap imposed on them, which would free them to raise the money to build much-needed new housing. Local authorities are also calling on the Housing Minister to review government’s new Right-to-buy policy next year amid concerns the rate of discount and cap on what councils can reinvest may reduce the amount of council housing in some areas.
- Speeding up the process of bringing empty homes back into use. This should include implementing the empty homes premium through the Local Government Finance Bill.
In a letter to the Housing Minister, Cllr Keith House, Vice-Chairman of the LGA’s Environment and Housing Board, said:
“The country currently faces the worst housing shortage in a generation, a crisis that is directly linked to the biggest fight now facing the UK – helping our economy recover.
“Growth is faltering, there is an urgent need for homes, and stimulating the development industry will be crucial in helping recovery. But across the country there simply aren’t enough homes being built.
“We need more, and we need a variety that includes a mix of private and social homes which are truly affordable for local people.
“Councils are working hard to deliver what they can, working innovatively with local partners, contributing land, and granting planning permission where development proposals are sustainable and meet local needs and aspirations. But they are desperate to do more,
“By arming councils with greater freedom and financial flexibilities, Whitehall could unlock the potential with local government and help deliver the homes this country so desperately needs.”