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‘Help is on its way’ as May pledges £2bn for affordable housing

Prime minister Theresa May has announced plans to invest an additional £2bn into affordable housing.

Speaking during the last day of the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, May pledged to invest a total of almost £9bn into affordable housing, building homes for social rent in parts of the country where the need is greatest, at well below market level.

“So, whether you’re trying to buy your own home, renting privately and looking for more security, or have been waiting for years on a council list, help is on the way,” she promised.

In response to the announcement, Cllr Philip Atkins, County Councils Network (CCN) vice-chairman and leader of Staffordshire County Council, said: “County residents face the most unaffordable housing outside of London, with the average property price nine times average yearly earnings, rising to 12 times higher in areas in the south east.

“Therefore, the premise of a renewed drive to build more affordable homes will be welcomed by many in counties.”

But he argued that more needs to be done to meet the current housing need.

“However, a narrow focus on simply council or housing association stock will likely only go some way to solving the housing crisis,” added Cllr Atkins. “The current planning system is fragmented in two-tier areas, with counties in charge of infrastructure and district councils tasked with delivering the homes. The two should be seen in tandem with each other rather than separate. The recently announced Statement of Common Ground is a step in the right direction, but doesn’t go far enough.

“CCN has argued for a new role for county councils in strategic planning, working with district authorities and neighbouring unitaries to plan for homes over large, county wide areas. This will allow them to target development in the most appropriate areas rather than in places that generate local concern, whilst allowing for the necessary infrastructure to be built so communities do not feel extra pressure on their services.”

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