Town hall chiefs have warned the government that they need them if they want to develop more homes and cut the housing benefit bill, but the Housing & Planning Bill is destined to destroy those goals.
Lord Porter, chairman of the Local Government Association (LGA), has warned that the unintended implications of the bill might diminish the availability of council housing and dampen their ability to develop more ahead of tomorrow’s second reading in the House of Lords. Lord Porter.
“With the aid of the LGA and councils, the government wants to move away from handouts and toward building more homes. It is apparent that tackling our housing problem will involve an increase of all forms of accommodation, including those for affordable and social rent alongside those to enable home ownership,” said Lord Porter.
“According to LGA members and councils, some elements of the proposed Housing and Planning Bill will not help the government achieve its goals because they could reduce council housing availability and hinder our ability to invest in new affordable housing and to create the right mix of housing that local residents can afford to buy. As more individuals are compelled to rent in the more expensive private sector, we believe that this will actually increase the housing assistance bill, which we all want decreased.
“The LGA has been working hard behind the scenes to influence the Bill and its regulations, and is pleased that the Government is open to 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 in their own areas.
“After careful consideration, it is obvious that some of our most pressing concerns remain regarding the Bill’s impact on local people and government. Our efforts in public and private will now be entirely focused on enhancing it so that councils can play their lead role in enabling Government and all of our partners to expand housebuilding, facilitate home ownership, and reduce homelessness and benefits. For now, our focus will be on a number of amendments that would allow councils and the government to better address our housing issue, such as opposing forced sales of council houses to pay for Right to Buy expansion and advocating for more local control over how starter homes are delivered.
“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.”