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APSE calls for councils to be at the heart of new homes

APSE calls for councils to be at the heart of new homes

APSE calls for councils to be at the heart of new homes


Whilst welcoming the Prime Minister’s announcement for 60,000 new starter homes, APSE (Association for Public Service Excellence) calls on the Government to focus on making new council homes a reality.


Responding to the PM’s announcement, APSE Chief Executive Paul O’Brien said “Of course any new homes are to be welcomed, especially as we face a chronic housing shortage in the UK, but where is the role of local councils in all of this? For a Government that has staked its claim to localism, it is both surprising and alarming that councils appear to have little to do with these new homes.


“Affordable and starter homes are of course needed, but we also need to address the chronic under-supply of homes with affordable rents. Councils are best placed to address that shortage, but they need funds and a stable, supportive policy from national Government to enable them to deliver locally”.


O’Brien added “ Our research ‘Housing the Nation: Ensuring council can deliver more and better homes’ found that in the post war years the UK regularly achieved more than 300,000 new homes each year, including around 140,000 built by local councils but by 2013 councils were delivering just 2000 new homes.


“Currently we see around 240,000 new households in the UK per annum but we are delivering less than half the homes needed, so even with these additional 60,000 homes by 2020,  we can’t avoid the obvious solution which is that we need a mass house building programme with councils fully involved in the delivery of new homes; in that context these new homes will be a drop in the ocean of the much greater need for new homes to both buy and rent”.


‘Housing the Nation: Ensuring councils can deliver new and better homes’ was published by APSE in 2014 and jointly produced with the TCPA

The research can be downloaded on the APSE Website free of charge


The report puts forward a number of recommendations including:-


  •          A call on the UK Government to forge a lasting cross-party consensus that local authorities are a key part of the solution to the housing crisis, providing clear leadership to encourage councillors, and their authorities, to think boldly and in the long term and for local councils to ensure that social and affordable housing is included in the Local Plan process.


  •          Councils should play a stronger role in co-ordinating land assembly and planning, acting as lead developer, to drive delivery. Where councils own land they should explore creative opportunities to bring it forward and when releasing public sector land, Government should coordinate between Government departments and agencies and empower councils to decide how best to facilitate development in their area.


  •          The expansion of combined authorities in England is a major opportunity to recreate effective strategic planning for housing.  Government should play a role in this process by ensuring combined authorities can adopt strategic spatial plans with statutory weight and that the scope, timescales and content of such plans allows them to best support local planning and coordinate cross border relationships with other city regions and combined authorities.


  •          The UK Government must amend the viability test in the National Planning Policy Framework ensuring it is more balanced and allows for the consideration of economic data on the cost and benefits to the public sector and the wider economy of new social and affordable housing and should reverse the central deregulation of permitted development.


  •          The UK Government should reverse the recent changes which exempt developments of 10 homes or less from section 106 affordable housing contributions and cancel the recently introduced Vacant Building Credit.


  •          Councils should seize the have an opportunity to become the ‘landlord of choice’ ensuring that they 'build, maintain, improve’ local housing and coordinate housing services with other council services such as health, education and social care.


  •          The UK Government should lift the Housing Revenue Account borrowing cap which would significantly increase local authorities’ ability to deliver new social and affordable homes and re-visit the issue as to whether investment in housing should be part of the public sector borrowing requirement (PSBR). As APSE has consistently called for and the Association of Retained Council Housing and National Federation of ALMOs highlight “there is a strong case for reforming public borrowing rules to classify such borrowing separately, as is the practice elsewhere in Europe as well as by the IMF, and exempting it from the deficit reduction strategy.”


  •          Government should review the overall Right to Buy policy so that Right to Buy enables councils, ALMOs and Registered Providers/ Housing Associations to genuinely invest in one-for-one replacement of social housing. Alongside this measure the UK Government should review the New Homes Bonus scheme.


  •          The Government needs to support the expansion of the construction industry, recognising the current capacity constraints on delivery due to factors such as the availability of skilled and unskilled workers, equipment and raw materials.  Local authorities can also play an important role in expanding the sector through apprenticeships.


APSE is the Association for Public Service, a not-for-profit organisation working with over 300 councils throughout the UK providing advice, support and research on frontline local government services.


TCPA is the Town and Country Planning Association; Britain's oldest charity concerned with planning, housing and the environment. TCPA campaigns for the reform of the UK’s planning system to make it more responsive to people’s needs and aspirations and to promote sustainable development.


For press enquiries please contact Mo Baines on mbaines@apse.org.uk or tel 0161 772 1810

@apsenews @apseevents @apsetweets


Promoting excellence in public services

APSE (Association for Public Service Excellence) is a not for profit unincorporated association working with over 300 councils throughout the UK. Promoting excellence in public services, APSE is the foremost specialist in local authority frontline services, hosting a network for frontline service providers in areas such as waste and refuse collection, parks and environmental services, cemeteries and crematorium, environmental health, leisure, school meals, cleaning, housing and building maintenance.






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