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10.11.17

Only 8% of councils deliver enough affordable housing

A massive 92% of local authorities are failing to deliver enough affordable housing for residents, as rents continue to rise.

The IPPR, the progressive policy think tank, has demanded more government spending to reach local councils in order to combat the growing housing crisis.

In a new report, the organisation shows that there is a lack of affordable housing being delivered in the vast majority of area across England as local authorities also fail to build enough homes to meet the need for overall housing need.

More than two thirds of local authorities failed to meet housing demand in 2015-16 according to the government’s new projections.

The research also shows that, while the range of housing products available have increased, models for rent, ownership and intermediate housing have become increasingly separated from earnings and linked to high market prices, which can push house prices well above affordable levels.

The think tank says central government should devolve more powers to mayors and increase funding in order to bolster house-building capacity.

In addition, it calls for an end to the cap on local government borrowing which has repeatedly been criticised by councils across the country.

IPPR researcher Darren Baxter, who worked on the study, explained his findings: “This analysis shows that not only are local authorities failing to build enough affordable homes, those which are being built are often out of reach of those who they are intended to support.

“The newly elected mayors should use their powers to take on the housing crisis and get their local councils building, including working to bring land to market for social and affordable rent.

“If it is serious about tackling the housing crisis, government will work with mayors to ensure they are equipped with the powers they need to drive local house building programmes their regions need.”

Baxter’s colleague Luke Murphy, senior research fellow at IPPR, argued that chancellor Philip Hammond must use the upcoming Autumn Budget to deal with the situation.

He added: “The decades long failure to build enough homes has seen housing become ever more unaffordable. It’s not just about how many homes are built but how affordable they are too.”

The report finds that some authorities, such as Greater Manchester CA, have missed yearly house-building targets by as much as 42%, or 4,500 homes.

Cllr Martin Tett, the LGA’s housing spokesman, said councils were “keen” to get on with delivering homes but were limited by the resources provided by government.

Tett also backed up Murphy’s call for the chancellor to deal with the situation at the upcoming budget: “Local authorities are playing their part, making sure that nine out of 10 planning applications are approved, but increasingly the homes are not being built – which is why it is essential that councils’ planning services are properly funded, and that they are given the power to make sure that developers build out approved homes quickly.

“If we’re to really deliver the homes we need, with the infrastructure to support them, the chancellor needs to use the Autumn Budget to lift the housing borrowing cap, and enable councils to borrow to build once more.”

Fears over the affordable housing stock were somewhat allayed by prime minister Theresa May’s announcement from the Conservative Party conference last month of £2bn extra funding for the sector. However, critics still maintain that too little is being done to solve the overall problem.

Top image: Oktay Ortakcioglu

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