Scrap the council borrowing cap, says LGA
The government needs to remove some of the barriers that prevent councils helping to tackle the housing crisis, according to the Local Government Association.
In a letter to housing minister Grant Shapps, the LGA has urged the government to drop borrowing caps imposed on local authorities and to review the increased right to buy discounts brought in this year, as both restrict the amount councils can spend on housing.
The organisation, which represents more than 350 councils in England and Wales, also called for the government to drop proposals that would force them to reconsider Section 106 arrangements previously agreed with developers. It argued that this move would give them more power to invest money into new infrastructure.
The letter from Keith House, vice chairman of the LGA’s environment and housing board, also said the process for bringing empty homes back into use should be sped up.
‘The country currently faces the worst housing shortage in a generation, a crisis that is directly linked to the biggest fight now facing the UK – helping our economy recover,’ said the letter.
‘Growth is faltering, there is an urgent need for homes, and stimulating the development industry will be crucial in helping recovery. But across the country there simply aren’t enough homes being built.
‘We need more, and we need a variety that includes a mix of private and social homes which are truly affordable for local people.
‘Councils are working hard to deliver what they can, working innovatively with local partners, contributing land, and granting planning permission where development proposals are sustainable and meet local needs and aspirations. But they are desperate to do more.
‘By arming councils with greater freedom and financial flexibilities, Whitehall could unlock the potential with local government and help deliver the homes this country so desperately needs.’