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Housing review to consider ‘extra freedoms’ for councils

An independent review will consider how councils can help to build more social housing, the government has announced.

Natalie Elphicke, chair of Million Homes, Million Lives, and Keith House, leader of Eastleigh Borough Council, will lead the review.

It will investigate how local authorities are using their property portfolios to finance house building, and look into how they could work more closely with housing associations, house builders and businesses to increase available social housing.

Chief secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander said: “The government is on track to deliver 170,000 new affordable homes over this Parliament, and from next year we will be building new affordable homes at the fastest rate for 20 years.

“I am, however, determined that we do even more to support affordable and good quality housing in the UK. That is why we have announced this new review into the role local authorities can play in helping to meet our housing needs and I am delighted that Natalie and Keith have agreed to lead this.”

Communities secretary Eric Pickles added: “The coalition government has got Britain building again. House building is now at its highest level since 2007 and construction orders are growing at the fastest rate for 10 years. But there is still more to do.

“Our reforms have already untied the hands of councils so they can take more responsibility for housing in their area. This review will now consider if extra freedoms and financial flexibilities could be devolved to councils, so they can build more homes that local people need.”

Elphicke said: “More council houses have been built since 2010 than in the previous decade. Our review will look at whether more can be done to help councils to deliver more homes for their communities.”

Cllr House said: “Local authorities have a vital role in contributing to housing supply of all tenures. Our review will test how councils are meeting that challenge and where there is potential for innovation and creativity to increase the number of new homes built.”

NFA policy director, Chloe Fletcher, said: “We hope this review will go some way towards identifying the opportunities that a newly self-financed council housing sector has to build new homes and meet the needs of local residents for affordable homes. The NFA will continue to campaign for greater financial freedom for local authorities and councils.”

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