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Councils want to build 18 times more homes than they expect to

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Councils want to build 18 times more homes for social rent than they expect to be able to.

That finding has come from research by Scape Group, a council-owned body that offers construction framework contracts.

Scape polled 50 senior council officers and found 65% were “very concerned” about the provision of social rented housing in their areas, rising to 75% in southern England.

The respondents said the average local authority would like to build 1,800 homes for social rent every year, but expected to manage only 1,000 over the next decade. The survey, however, was conducted before the government announced it would lift the housing revenue account cap for local authorities.

Scape’s chief executive Mark Robinson said: “Councils have not been allowed to hold the required level of responsibility, or had the funding, to build homes for social rent for years. It has all been down to housing associations who, with the best will in the world, have not been building homes for social rent to the scale the country needs.

“The current model is not working. It seems that the government has finally recognised that local councils need to contribute towards meeting housing targets, but it will take years to turn back the clock on decades of undersupply.”

Scape said building with prefabricated components under ‘modern methods of construction’ techniques could offer a solution as it would be possible to build up to four times as many homes with the onsite labour required for one built in the traditional way. These possibilities are largely untapped, though, with only 22% of councils rating prefabricated techniques as ‘very important’.

Scape is owned by Derby City Council, Derbyshire CC, Nottingham City Council, Nottinghamshire CC, Gateshead MBC and Warwickshire CC. Its framework contracts cover national and regional construction, built environment consultancy, civil engineering and minor works.

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