Can the government reach its current housing pledge? We find out
New leader of the Local Government Association says government faces failing to meet goal to produce 275,000 affordable houses by year 2020 unless councils are given more power to improve skills and build more housing (LGA).
Cllr Gary Porter will tell the association’s annual conference in Harrogate that ministers should remove home borrowing limits and let councils retain 100 per cent of earnings from Right to Buy sales, without onerous rules dictating how they may be used.
It was estimated that between 2010-11 and 2013-14, England built 204,000 new affordable homes for working families. According to the LGA, construction in 2013-14 was down 29% from 2010-11, and just 215,000 homes would be completed by 2020 if this trend continues.
Cllr Porter, the Conservative leader of South Holland District Council, will also advocate for more local control of skills. He will warn that while demand for skills in the construction industry has surged by 54 per cent since 2013, the number of completed construction apprenticeships has declined by 58 per cent since 2009.
There were 232,500 construction, planning, and building-related vocational qualifications in 2013-14, or 2.7% of all vocational qualifications. Over the previous year, the number decreased by 8,000, and it has decreased by 25,000 since 2008-09.
Cllr Porter will make the case that bringing together councils, schools, universities, and companies to develop better skill programmes will address this disparity by devolving money and responsibility for jobs and skills services to local regions.
According to the LGA, the cost to the NHS from poor housing conditions might be reduced by as much as £24 billion by increasing the supply of affordable housing.
“The Government has indicated a clear goal to develop more affordable houses and assist more people own their own home. Local government has a crucial role to play to make this happen,” Cllr Porter will address the conference.
We need to be able to borrow money to build new homes, which means we can establish Right-to-Buy discounts and keep 100 percent of the proceeds.
“For too long there has also been a mismatch of centrally set training and abilities needed locally. We’ve trained too many hairdressers and not enough bricklayers.
“The solution is a larger decentralisation of public services and we need it sooner rather than later. Devolution will allow us to do more for our people. We also require that all regions of the country be given an equal opportunity to participate.
In order to provide better services for local residents at a reduced cost, “By bringing local public services together in one local place we will be able to get a lot more out of the public’s money – so better services for residents and at a lower cost.”
Chancellor George Osborne announced a £300m rise in the HRA borrowing cap for 2015-16 and 2017-18 in the 2013 Autumn Statement. On the Chartered Institute of Housing conference in Manchester last week, housing minister Brandon Lewis ruled out further rises because of the estimated £2.8 billion of headroom that remains.
Lewis did, however, pledge to looking at a review of red tape linked to Right to Buy.