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Almost all councils facing ‘severe or moderate’ housing problem

Councils have almost unanimously announced this week that local areas are severely in need of affordable homes.

In a survey conducted by the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) with the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE), 166 councils were asked how big the problem of building affordable houses was in their area.

The report, called ‘Building Homes, Creating Communities,’ showed that almost all councils saw housing as a huge issue, as 98% of those that responded said the need for affordable houses was either “severe” or “moderate”.

TCPA said that the findings also show the cumulative impact of existing housing and planning policies in England – such as the 1% annual rent reductions in the social rented sector and continued deregulation of the planning system – measures that the Association argue has made homes less available for social rent.

“Our research reveals that Britain is facing an acute housing crisis with councils across the country increasingly unable to meet the need for affordable housing,” said Kate Henderson, chief executive of the TCPA.

“The incoming government must make tackling the housing crisis a priority,” she added. “An ambition to increase housing numbers is not enough, we need to ensure that the homes that are built are affordable and well designed.”

The research also revealed that over two-thirds (69%) of councils questioned said that they already had, or were thinking about, setting up a local authority housing company either on their own or in partnership.

Paul O’Brien, chief executive of APSE stated: “Whilst the general election had been pitched as the Brexit election the political narrative can’t ignore the housing crisis that we face across the UK.

“A new wave of council homes would help support local economic growth, jobs and skills in our economy; housing could be an effective driver for a renewed industrial strategy but to achieve this we need to place local councils at the heart of delivery on housing need.

“That means the future government of whatever political make-up must provide the financial freedoms and flexibility for councils to deliver solutions to our chronic housing shortage.”

The report follows multiple warnings from think tanks and government bodies about the desperate state of the housing market. Earlier this month, the CLG Committee called for changes to the amount of money councils could borrow for capital in order to tackle the issue of affordable housing.

And Civitas, a key think tank for the public sector, stated that the current housebuilding system was too slow, and not keeping up with high demand for cheaper homes.

Top Image: Dominic Lipinski PA Wire

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