HELPING EVERYONE FIND HOMES AT AN AFFORDABLE PRICE
The shortage of houses in this country is a top priority for people and buying a home is increasingly out of reach for many. Over the last two Parliaments, the number of people under 45 who can afford their own home has fallen by a fifth. More than three million adults aged 20-34 are now living with their parents; house prices are rising faster than average earnings and there are 1.7 million households on waiting lists for affordable homes across England.
Councils are ambitious for their communities and the people who live in them. They want to build more local, affordable homes but currently they are restricted in their ability to do so. Councils have demonstrated that when they are given the powers, resources and flexibilities they can build at scale. Councils are focused on making the best use of land that is available and appropriate for housing including prioritising the use of brownfield land through their local plans where this makes sense locally.
OUR PLANS WOULD PROVIDE HALF A MILLION MORE HOMES SO PEOPLE CAN FIND A PLACE THEY CAN AFFORD.
To be able to do this, the new government must:
In the first Queen’s Speech
Announce a new Public Services Bill that will:
• Place councils on a level playing field with housing associations by excluding council housing expenditure and borrowing from counting against the UK index of public debt, as in other European countries.
• Put in place meaningful incentives to encourage private developers to speed up the delivery of housing which already has planning permission. Alongside appropriate financial penalties, incentives should include reducing up-front costs and risks through early discussions with developers, guarantees and phasing payments for infrastructure. This will help bring forward the estimated 60,000 homes on hold or classed as ‘shelved’ in 2013 and speed up the delivery of private sector homes more widely, delivering an estimated additional 90,000 homes.
In the first Budget
The Chancellor will:
• Create council-led local land trusts with powers to pool surplus central and local government land for housing and make decisions about its disposal. Trusts would operate on a ‘build now pay later’ model to support large sites to come forward with necessary infrastructure and affordable housing, a model which could also be applied to private sector landowners. This could release additional capacity for 140,000 homes over the next Parliament.
• Announce an immediate removal of the Housing Revenue Account borrowing cap, to be replaced by the same controls that apply to any other council borrowing. This alone would deliver 80,000 homes over five years. This is in addition to the estimated 80,000 homes councils plan to build in partnership with housing associations and private developers over the next five years.
• Incentivise councils to consider using their reserves for housing investment by allowing them to retain any savings to the housing benefit bill locally for reinvestment in housing. Councils investing 10-20 per cent of their unallocated reserves in this way would see a one-off addition of around 4,000 new homes.
• Allow councils, not just energy companies, to use the percentage of money already collected for energy efficiency schemes through fuel bills to insulate homes, reducing household bills and giving those families in greatest need more money to put towards rents and mortgages.
In the first 100 days
The new Government will:
• Scrap the Right to Buy scheme’s complex arrangements for councils and ensurethe discount offered is in line with the local housing market and stimulates sales, and that the receipts from sales are retained directly by the council to reinvest in replacement housing. This will allow councils to replace around 50,000 houses sold through Right to Buy.
INNOVATING TO BUILD
Councils are delivering innovative schemes to build more homes:
Eastleigh Borough Council
• Eastleigh Borough Council offered a ‘guaranteed purchase’ model for developers who had sites with existing planning permission but were unsure if they could sell the houses, leading to stalled development. Under this arrangement the developer had an agreed period to sell and the flats were in fact all sold to private buyers.
The Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City
• The Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal will generate 17,420 new homes and secure £2.3 billion in leveraged commercial interest. The City Deal has enabled the partners to set up an infrastructure delivery fund and investment fund to get schemes moving and provide the catalyst for jobs and housing. Infrastructure developments will be funded by bringing together existing streams, along with investment from the Lancashire Pension Fund, land receipts, New Homes Bonus and the Community Infrastructure Levy from developers. Homes and Communities Agency assets are being brought into the City Deal. The partners will keep the receipts for 10 years and a stewardship board will guide the disposal process. By bringing certainty over long-term investment, housing development can start quickly.
• The Gateshead Regeneration Partnership will deliver 2,400 homes over the next 15 years. Gateshead Council is using its land assets to secure private finance through a local ‘asset based vehicle’. Right to Buy.