Planning and Housing

03.07.18

Communities secretary to place ‘broken housing market’ as top priority, councils to have a big role

Previous governments have failed to build enough homes and local councils are going to have a big role in fixing the broken housing market, the communities’ secretary has announced today.

Speaking at the Local Government Association (LGA) conference in Birmingham, James Brokenshire said Homes England — the government arm of building new homes — will enter long-term strategic partnerships with housing associations to deliver affordable homes.

Eight partnerships in total will be created, with the first one established today, Brokenshire added. Last week Whitehall invited local authorities to bid for borrowing schemes to build more houses.

In addition, Brokenshire said, the department is investing in a wide range of affordable housing, alongside its reforming of planning to combat homelessness.

Earlier last month, councils were told they would receive new powers to help them deliver homes that their communities need under new proposed regulations, including the ability to seek government approval to launch a New Town Development Corporation.

Following the news in early June, reports surfaced that the current right-to-buy scheme could collapse unless councils were given more cash to replace the homes sold. According to figures, over 60,000 properties have been sold to tenants over the last six years — whilst councils only have enough funds to replace 14,000 of them.

Brokenshire promised to stand up for local government’s interests, adding that “everyone agrees” the current funding formula for council budgets needs fixing. He demanded a robust approach where the overriding priority is to make use of current resources available.

“I'm on your side,” he continued, “I believe in local government and what you do. But I want to see a renaissance in local government. I'm here to do the same: make a difference and deliver for communities”

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Image credit: BriBar, iStock images

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