Homes fit for heroes

The LGA is calling for 100,000 new social homes to be built every year, to help kickstart recovery.

Just as councils have led the way during the emergency response to COVID-19, they should also now be empowered to spearhead the national housing recovery.

As the nation comes through the biggest crisis it has faced since the Second World War, we owe it to those who risked their lives to keep the country running to provide them with affordable, high-quality housing.

A post-pandemic building boom of 100,000 social homes a year is needed to provide a kickstart to the economy, as well as housing fit for social care, health and other key workers who have fought coronavirus on the frontline and for the families of those who lost their lives.

In a recent report, the LGA has called on the Government to let councils take charge, by giving them the powers and tools to build the affordable homes the country desperately needs.

Our proposals include expanding 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.

Reforms to Right to Buy are also needed, to allow councils to retain 100 per cent of receipts from the sale of homes under the scheme. The deadline to spend the money from sales should also be extended to at least five years, and councils should be able to set the size of discounts locally.

And we need a skills and jobs strategy to increase the capacity of the building industry, which has suffered during coronavirus, and to meet the needs of accelerating a social housing building programme.

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

Our analysis 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.

In addition, the scheme would not only meet a third of the Government’s 300,000 house-building target, it would also generate a range of social and economic benefits, boost the supply of affordable housing and enable the country to get building again following a downturn in construction as a result of many house builders closing their sites.

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

Above all, we believe 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.

‘Delivery of council housing: a stimulus package post-pandemic’ is available in full at www.local.gov.uk/delivery-council-housing-stimulus-package-post-pandemic

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