Councils in 'severe' need for affordable homes

A joint report from the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) and the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) has found that 98 per cent of councils have described their need for affordable houses as ‘severe’ or ‘moderate’, with only one per cent claiming that their need is not substantial.

Surveying 166 local authorities, Building homes, creating communities: Ensuring councils provide innovative solutions to meeting housing need highlights the pressure on UK councils to meet the growing demand for affordable housing, because of a lack of new homes being built, and of those that are being built, those in need finding them unaffordable.

Furthermore, policies such as the one per cent annual rent reductions in the social rented sector have limited the ability of councils to secure genuinely affordable homes available for social rent.

Therefore, local authorities are acknowledging the need for them to take a more active role in housing delivery by setting up local housing companies and innovative approaches to partnership working. The survey discovered that 69 per cent of councils were already or were thinking of setting up a local authority housing company either on their own or in partnership.

Kate Henderson, chief executive of the TCPA, said: “Our research reveals that Britain is facing an acute housing crisis with councils across the country increasingly unable to meet the need for affordable housing. The incoming government must make tackling the housing crisis a priority. An ambition to increase housing numbers is not enough, we need to ensure that the homes that are built are affordable and well designed.”

Paul O’Brien, chief executive of APSE, added: “Whilst the general election had been pitched as the Brexit election the political narrative can’t ignore the housing crisis that we face across the UK. A new wave of council homes would help support local economic growth, jobs and skills in our economy; housing could be an effective driver for a renewed industrial strategy but to achieve this we need to place local councils at the heart of delivery on housing need. That means the future Government of whatever political make-up must provide the financial freedoms and flexibility for councils to deliver solutions to our chronic housing shortage.”

The report also makes 15 recommendations to the incoming government ahead of the 8 June general election, including a call for investment in building new homes available for social rent to house Britain’s ‘essential’ low-paid workers.

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