An umbrella organisation representing local authorities has said this week that councils should be given the opportunity to resume their “historic role” as house builders to ease the country’s affordable housing crisis.
Millions of working people will no longer be able to afford somewhere decent to live by 2024 and will need access to some type of affordable housing, new research published by the Local Government Association (LGA) warns.
The LGA, which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, set up a Housing Commission last year to explore how a renewed investment in the different new homes that people need can deliver significant wider benefits for communities. It is now calling on new government ministers to take urgent steps so councils can help.
The number of first-time buyers in England have fallen by a third in a decade. Research has also found that:
- a minimum of 3.98 million people of working age will still need access to affordable housing options by 2024 even if the country is able to achieve full employment by upskilling 3.5 million people to take higher paid jobs the economy has been projected to create.
- around 5.4 million people of working age will need access to affordable housing by 2024 if qualification levels do not increase. Overall demand will be higher should the economy not create the jobs projected.
- the likely demand of affordable homes for working age people will range from 2.25 million to 3.07 million, compared with 2.87 million in 2011. Overall demand will be much greater when taking into account those not working, such as pensioners.
- affordable is defined as someone who has to spend 30 per cent or more of their household income on their housing costs.
The LGA is calling for the government to allow councils to:
- borrow to invest in housing in the same way that they are able to borrow to invest in other projects
- keep 100 per cent of the receipts from properties sold through ‘right to buy’ to build new homes
- combine right to buy receipts with other funding, to use receipts to build through housing companies, and to count the value of council land in building replacements.
Cllr Stephen Morgan, Labour’s spokesperson on housing said:
“I welcome this national research from the LGA and the practical recommendations this report offers.
More and more families will be affected by the housing crisis every year. People working hard will no longer be able to find an affordable and decent place to live if councils across the land don’t get on with the job of building the new homes that people in our communities desperately need.
People raise their concerns about how difficult it is to get their own home with me all the time so I am assured that Portsmouth City Council understands the need identified in this LGA report.
I welcome the fact that our council is already taking steps to tackle the local shortage, and I will press for further action and innovative solutions so we have more genuinely affordable housing in our great city for the benefit of local people and families”.