Councils share the collective national ambition to tackle the country’s housing shortage, and our goals can only be achieved by strong national and local leadership working together.
As house builders, housing enablers and landlords; as planners, place-shapers and agents of growth, transport and infrastructure; as responsible guardians to the vulnerable and the homeless; and as democratically accountable representatives of communities – local government is at the heart of the housing solution.
The Government has set a target of building 300,000 homes a year. The last time this country built at least 250,000 homes a year, councils delivered more than 40 per cent of them.
The pandemic has made it harder to deliver new housing. Rates of construction are picking up as we move to recovery, but this backlog is unlikely to be cleared until 2025 or beyond, at a time when almost eight million people in England are estimated to have some form of housing need. Projected demand for supported housing in England is set to grow by 125,000 by 2030 and, at present, we have more than 1.1 million homes that, since 2010, have been granted planning permission but have not yet been built.
A local, plan-led system is crucial for our levelling up ambitions, to ensure councils can deliver the right types of homes in the right places, with appropriate infrastructure. Councils must also be empowered to incentivise developers to bring allocated sites forward without delay.
Long term, we would like to see reform to the Right to Buy scheme, to allow councils to retain 100 per cent of receipts so that more can be invested in new homes, and discounts set locally.
The LGA has also long called for the removal of permitted development rights, under which full planning permission is not required and certain requirements, such as the need to provide affordable housing, can be ignored.
Quite often, councils include a policy in their local plan requiring that a proportion of new homes meet certain accessibility standards. However, permitted developments are not subject to local plan policies, meaning that fewer homes are delivered to these standards.
“Projected demand for supported housing in England is set to grow by 125,000 by 2030″
In the levelling up White Paper, it was positive to see steps taken to address the quality and security of housing, particularly for older people. The Government announced a task force that will work alongside government departments, housing providers, developers and older people, with appropriate links made to the housing commitments in the adult social care reform White Paper.
Alongside this, the White Paper includes a commitment of at least £300 million over the next three yearst to embed the strategic commitment in all local places to connect housing with health and care, and drive the stock of new supported housing. A further £570 million per year will help deliver the Disabled Facilities Grant, something the LGA fully supports.
Councils want all tenants to live in safe and secure, high-quality housing. To turn this ambition into a reality, the Government needs to ensure councils have the ability to establish landlord licensing schemes and the appropriate tools and resources to support the enforcement of housing quality.