A total 71% of Conservative council leaders and housing leads have warned the government’s current spending plans will not deliver enough low-cost rented homes.
Lord Porter (Con), who is Local Government Association chair and leader of South Holland DC, has renewed his call to give councils greater freedom to build new homes.
The Survation poll of 121 senior Conservative councillors was conducted for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation ahead of the government’s publication of its social housing green paper, expected in the new few months.
Despite a pledge in the autumn Budget for an additional £2bn funding for affordable housing – aimed to deliver about 25,000 new homes, a proportion of which are intended to be for social rent – 71% of councillors were concerned that this will be insufficient to meet the needs of their constituents.
Almost all of the councillors surveyed (96%) said the social housing green paper must address the supply of low-cost rented homes as part of its comprehensive review of affordable housing in England.
Responding to the survey, Lord Porter said: “The prime minister has made it clear that getting more homes of all types, including social housing for rent, built is one of the government’s key priorities and Conservative local government supports the commitment to deliver an average of 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s.
“However, the last time the country built more than 250,000 homes a year councils built 40% of them. If local government is to play our role in meeting these ambitious targets we need to be given greater freedom to build new homes. Housebuilding by councils at scale would boost local economies and productivity, reduce housing benefit spending and homelessness, put right-to-buy on a sustainable footing, and create revenue generating assets for communities.”
Lord Porter said while the Budget’s extra money was “a positive step”, councils had “consistently called for the cap to be lifted for all councils”. He said: “Doing so would spark a renaissance in house building, allowing us in local government to do our bit to help address the housing crisis.”
Meanwhile, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation is calling on the government to deliver at least 80,000 low-cost rented homes each year in England in order to help reduce homelessness and poverty.