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11.04.16

Housing Bill could unintentionally increase homelessness – LGA leaders

A cross-party group of LGA leaders are backing amendments to the Housing and Planning Bill, currently being debated in the House of Lords.

In a letter to the Guardian, Cllr David Hodge, leader of the LGA Conservative Group, Cllr Sharon Taylor, deputy leader of the Labour group, Cllr Marianne Overton, leader of the Independent group, and Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, say that the Bill’s aim of increasing affordable starter homes for first time buyers risks reducing the number of “genuinely affordable rented homes that our local communities desperately need”.

The Bill contains proposals for councils to make payments to government based on selling council housing.

The council leaders say that these proposals “will hamper councils’ ability to invest in new affordable council housing and are likely to have the unintended consequence of increasing homelessness and pushing more families into the more expensive private rented sector”.

Rough sleeping in England has increased by 30% in the past year.

The council leaders ask the Lords to back amendments meaning that councils can keep enough of the cost from selling every council home to replace it, and to allow councils to decide how many starter homes and how many council homes will be built on each development, to meet local need.

Recent LGA research predicted that the majority of the starter homes will be unaffordable for those who need them.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation also warned that the scheme could lead to housing for the elderly being sold off.

The government have promised increased measures to make it easier for the public to identify surplus government land in the bill, following a PSE story revealing that the Right to Contest scheme has led to just six pieces of surplus land being sold in two years.

The House of Lords’ National Policy for the Built Environment Committee previously criticised the government’s current housing policy, saying that it is unlikely to meet the demand for affordable housing.

Comments

Cllr Angela Newton   18/04/2016 at 16:59

I am amazed this conservative government is trying to force local councils to deal with housing needs through planning procedures. Local councils, through their Local Plans are best placed to know the needs of their local Areas. Bring in Devolution.

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