Landlords await their fate ahead of strategy
Prime minister David Cameron is expected to announce new funding and plans to build up to 450,000 new homes in the government’s long-awaited housing strategy.
After a series of delays, Mr Cameron is expected to announce the strategy early next week. Sources close to the government said it was set to include a pledge to build up to 450,000 homes by the next election as part of the ‘house building revolution’ Mr Cameron promised in September.
It is understood that the strategy, which will mostly weave together existing policies, will allocate new cash which a government insider described as being worth ‘a few hundred million’.
Inside Housing understands there were ongoing inter-departmental discussions this week about the final contents of the strategy and how the money should be split across building new homes, a mortgage scheme and tackling empty homes.
Although the source warned the new cash was not a ‘stellar amount’, it is significant given many in the sector had expected none at all.
The Chartered Institute of Housing warned on Tuesday that the strategy could just be ‘a series of strong articulations of what’s [already] been announced’.
However, new announcements are thought to include: plans for ‘light touch’ regulation of the private rented sector; the release of more public sector land; moves to attract institutional investment into the affordable housing sector; and a call for new companies to enter the affordable housing sector.
One of the most eagerly awaited parts of the strategy for councils is likely to be an accompanying consultation on the government’s proposed revitalisation of the right to buy which will see it replace every sold home and build 100,000 new affordable homes at 80 per cent of market rates.
The consultation will reveal the level of discount available to tenants wishing to purchase their home and a broad outline of how sales receipts will be distributed.
It is understood the document will suggest that the Homes and Communities Agency administer the receipts. The council which sold the property will see the debt associated with that property paid off and have priority for the receipts, which will be used to build new homes.
This would represent a partial victory for councils. The Local Government Association has argued that the alternative, national pooling of receipts, would reduce the amount available for investment in housing and impact the new system of self-financing, which begins in April.
House building revolution
The government’s ambition to build up to 450,000 homes is expected to be a packaged figure based on 170,000 through the affordable homes programme, 100,000 through the release of public sector land and the build now, pay later scheme, with a further 100,000 through the right to buy. Government sources said the remainder would be announced through the strategy on Monday.