Nigel Holdcroft has written about the planned New council housing for the borough of Southend-on-Sea. As can be imagined, he is somewhat cynical.
This has prompted me to do a bit of digging, and lo – look what I found announce in January of this year – Government launches an independent review into how more social homes can be built.
(Need I remind Nigel of the particular colour of the Government?)
Anyway, it is worth quoting from this announcement:
An independent and wide-ranging review into how more social homes can be built has been launched by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, and the Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, today (Thursday 30 January).
This review will assess if councils are making sufficient use of their existing powers and flexibilities to deliver new social housing. For instance, councils could use their property portfolio more effectively to finance housebuilding by selling expensive vacant properties and using the receipts to build new affordable homes.
The review will also consider how councils can work more closely with housing associations, housebuilders and businesses to build more new homes.
The chairs of the review will also ensure that it gives adequate consideration to new freedoms and flexibilities which could be given to councils to deliver new social housing.
The government has untied the hands of councils through unprecedented reforms to the system for council house finance. Local authorities can now keep their rental income, in return for taking more responsibility for their housing businesses. At last year’s Autumn Statement this freedom was extended by inviting councils to bid for a share of £300 million of extra borrowing to build 10,000 new affordable homes.
Whilst this may not answer all of Nigel’s concerns, it does show that there may be solutions out there.