APSE (Association for Public Service Excellence) has broadly welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcements on a new generation of council housing but has warned the scale of the problem presents a monumental task that will need large scale public investment and a root and branch reform of planning and development.
Speaking about the announcements, APSE Chief Executive Paul O’Brien said “For decades we have argued that the private sector alone will never be able to deliver the volume, mix and quality of the homes our communities need. We welcome this bold statement from Mrs May committing to a new generation of council housing. However, we can’t afford to have strings attached. This has to be an outright, unequivocal commitment to provide councils with genuine financial freedoms to build new council homes."
O’Brien added “For decades successive Governments have been wedded to developer-led models of housing supply which has generated a broken housing market. If we are to deliver over a quarter of a million new homes per year at least 80,000 but up - to 100,000 new homes need to be built by local councils”.
APSE research with the Town and Country Planning Association has consistently argued for a number of reforms including;-
· Revising the HRA to increase the financial freedoms given to councils
· Reforming Right to Buy so properties are not taken out of council housing stock whilst shortages exist and housing waiting lists grow
· Reforming planning to bring quicker developments, including affordable homes and freeing up land banked by developers
· Viewing house building by councils as an investment and not a public debt issue
· Ensuring house building goes hand in hand in developing apprenticeships, jobs and skills in local areas
· New homes should have high quality standards on space, energy systems and energy efficiency, and be developed with high standards sympathetic to local environmental quality and a sustainable public realm
· Ensuring that the long term business plans to set rents are determined locally and provide stability, rather than ad-hoc short term interventions by Government which limit the ability of councils and housing associations to shape long term business forecasting (including recently imposed rent caps which fettered house building)
In the absence of full details APSE has warned that approaches to funding a new generation of council homes must be fair and place councils at the heart of delivery. Research by APSE and the TCPA has shown a huge growth in Local Authority Housing Companies delivering new affordable homes for social rent; however efforts could be massively scaled up if funding for council housing is adequately addressed and directly available to local councils. Of the additional £2bn announced for affordable homes it is not yet clear if this will be ringfenced specifically to homes for social rent. In any event £2bn is unlikely to make a serious dent into social housing need.
Notes to editors
APSE is the Association for Public Service Excellence, a not for profit body working with near to 300 UK wide local councils.
APSE’s extensive research programme includes the following publications which includes key statistics and statistics and information on housing and the role of local authorities
For comment or to arrange for interview please contact Mo Baines on firstname.lastname@example.org or mobile 07971 843515.