We welcomed the recognition that councils have to be part of the solution to our chronic housing shortage, and predicted they would quickly rise to the challenge of making the most of this new freedom.
“We have little control over Right to Buy in our towns and cities, which further reduces the supply of social housing
So it came as no surprise when our recent LGA survey found that the majority of housing stock-owning councils plan to use the new powers to accelerate or increase their house building programmes.
It was also no surprise that most of our respondents felt that lifting the cap was the start of the journey towards restoring councils’ historic role as major house builders – not the end of it.
There is still much more that needs to be done if we are to build more of the homes desperately needed in our local communities. After all, 205 councils no longer own any housing stock in their area so will be unable to use the new borrowing powers.
And we still have little control over the use of Right to Buy in our towns and cities, which further reduces the existing supply of social housing. The LGA continues to campaign for more reforms, including allowing councils to keep 100 per cent of Right to Buy receipts and to set discounts locally, so we can replace every house sold.
Building more homes – and particularly homes for social rent – is a no-brainer.
We demonstrated last month (see first 633) how, if 100,000 social rent homes had been built annually for the past 20 years, we would have cut billions from the housing benefit bill, provided higher disposable income for tenants, and generated significant economic returns.
The Government needs to reform Right to Buy. It also needs to set out a sustainably funded, long-term commitment to social housing in this year’s Spending Review, so that we can make a real difference over the next 20 years.