Latest Public Sector News

22.01.16

Housing Bill measures detrimental to council ambitions – Lord Porter

Some elements of the government's Housing & Planning Bill will be detrimental to existing housebuilding ambitions, instead hampering councils’ ability to invest in new affordable social homes, the LGA’s Conservative chair, Lord Porter, has said.

Instead of helping boost the current housing supply, the Bill, set to get second reading in the Lords next week, will have the “unintended consequence” of reducing the availability of council homes and blocking local authorities from creating the right mix of affordable developments.

“We contend that this would actually drive up the housing benefit bill, which we all want to see reduced, as more people are forced to move into the more expensive private-rented sector,” he said.

Lord Porter said the council association has been “working hard behind the scenes” to influence the Bill’s negative aspects and regulations. According to him, the government is open to having individual discussions with local authorities about the cumulative impact of reforms and the flexibilities they could gain to adapt policies - but fundamental issues remain regardless.

“It is now clear that some of our key concerns remain about the impact of elements of the Bill in local people and government achieving its ambitions,” he added. “Our efforts in public and private will now be fully focused on improving it so that councils can play their lead role in helping government and all of our partners to increase housebuilding, enable home ownership, and reduce homelessness and benefits.

“As the Bill reaches the Lords, we will continue to prioritise a range of amendments that will better allow councils and the government to solve our housing crisis, opposing the forced sale of council homes to fund the extension of Right to Buy and seeking a range of local flexibilities in the delivery of starter homes.”

Lord Porter’s eleventh hour plea ahead of the Bill’s reading next Tuesday comes after a series of concerns by LGA members over Whitehall’s tabled amendments earlier this month.

In a briefing, the association attacked nearly all of communities secretary Greg Clark MP’s tabled changes to the Bill, all added shortly before a Commons debate that only concluded in the early hours.

Concerns varied from taking powers away from local authorities to determine the mix of affordable housing products for rent and sale, giving developers the ability to choose who will process their planning applications, changes to section 106 and central powers to force councils to dispose of their land.

The Bill has recently made history as the first piece of legislation to pass through the Commons under the government’s new ‘English Votes for English Laws’ procedure, whereby MPs from other countries are barred from voting on England-specific motions.

(Top image c. Jonathan Brady, PA Wire)

Comments

Cllr Dave Mitchell   25/01/2016 at 15:30

This bill is moving away from social housing, and increasing the private sector, who as you can see are raising rent's, to gather more benefit revinue.

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