You need us, if you want to build more homes and reduce the housing benefit bill, town hall chiefs have told the Government, but the Housing & Planning Bill is set to demolish those aims.
Ahead of the Bill’s second reading in the House of Lords tomorrow, the chairman of the Local Government Association (LGA), Lord Porter, has warned that the unintended consequences of the Bill could reduce the availability of council housing and dampen their ability to build more.
“The LGA and councils want to help the Government shift spending from benefits to bricks and support government ambitions to increase housing supply across the country. It is clear that tackling our housing crisis will require an increase of all types of housing, including those for affordable and social rent alongside those to support home ownership,” said Lord Porter.
“The LGA and councils believe that some elements of the proposed Housing and Planning Bill will not help government achieve its ambitions, having the unintended consequence of reducing the availability of much-needed council housing, and hampering our ability to invest in new affordable council housing and to create the right mix of housing that local residents can afford to buy. We contend that this would actually drive up the housing benefit bill, which we all want to see reduced, as more people are forced to move into the more expensive private-rented sector.
“The LGA has been working hard behind the scenes to try and influence the Bill and its regulations, and are pleased the Government is open to having individual discussions with councils about the cumulative impact of reforms in local areas and the flexibilities councils could gain to adapt policies and deliver homes.
“It is now clear that some of our key concerns remain about the impact of elements of the Bill on local people and government achieving its ambitions. Our efforts in public and private will now be fully focused on improving it so that councils can play their lead role in helping Government and all of our partners to increase housebuilding, enable home ownership, and reduce homelessness and benefits. As the Bill reaches the Lords, we will continue to prioritise a range of amendments that will better allow councils and the Government to solve our housing crisis, opposing the forced sale of council homes to fund the extension of Right to Buy and seeking a range of local flexibilities in the delivery of starter homes.
“Councils must be able to keep playing a lead role in housebuilding to ensure new affordable rented homes that are crucial for enabling people to save money towards a deposit, and the means to secure investment in vital infrastructure that new home buyers will expect and will rely on.”