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Javid hints at extra borrowing for housing

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Communities secretary Sajid Javid has set out a pre-Budget pitch for the government to borrow more money to invest in infrastructure so more homes can be built.

Mr Javid said any borrowing “can’t” just be for social housing, while he also indicated he would not be relaxing rules around building on the green belt.

The Sun has reported Mr Javid wants to borrow £50bn for housing, a figure a source close to Mr Javid refused to comment on to LGC.

Appearing on The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, Mr Javid said: “What I want to do is make sure that we’re using everything that we have available to us to deal with this housing crisis. Where that means, for example, that we can sensibly borrow more to invest in the infrastructure that leads to more housing, take advantage of some of the record low interest rates that we have, I think we should be absolutely considering that.”

When asked if the policy had the support of chancellor Philip Hammond, the communities secretary said: “Let’s wait and see what happens in the Budget.”

Later Mr Javid was asked if the money would be handed to councils to build homes. He said: “No of course not. It can’t all be council housing. Councils have a big part to play. Where there are ambitious councils we have already said ‘Come forward’ and we are talking to a number at the moment.”

Mr Javid said housing associations “also have a role to play”. He added: “The private sector has the biggest role to play and that’s where we need to see more delivery.”

Last week housing minister Alok Sharma said incoming brownfield registers councils have to keep are “a pretty good starting point” to the centre-right thinktank Localis’s proposal to let councils redesignate green belt land.

But yesterday Mr Javid said the green belt “deserves all of its current protections” and added “I don’t believe we need to focus on the green belt” to build more homes. 

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