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Tue June 22 2021

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Councils call for ‘homes for heroes’ public house-building drive

22 Jun 20 The Local Government Association has called for a national programme of council house building to drive economic recovery from the coronavirus lockdown.

A post-pandemic building boom of 100,000 affordable homes a year is needed to provide housing fit for the health, social care and other key workers who have been on the frontline during the crisis, the Local Government Association (LGA) says in a new report.

The LGA calls for councils to be given more powers to boost the supply of affordable housing and get the country building again as private house-builders slow down investment.

The report, Delivery of Council Housing – Developing a Stimulus Package Post-Pandemic, sets out recommendations to central government to deliver a building programme of social homes.

It says that the government should expand council housing delivery by bringing forward and increasing the £12bn extension of the Affordable Homes Programme announced in the budget in March, with an increased focus on homes for social rent.

It calls for reform of Right to Buy, with councils able to retain 100% of receipts from the sale of homes under the scheme, the deadline to spend the money from sales should be extended to at least five years, and councils need the power to set the size of discounts locally.

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The LGA also says that social housing could be used to drive the use of ‘modern methods of construction’ – prefabrication – as its use in the private sector has been impeded by mortgage lenders’ reluctance to lend against buildings with uncertain durability.

LGA housing spokesman Cllr David Renard said: “As the nation comes through the biggest crisis we have faced since the Second World War, we owe it to the health, care and other essential public service workers, who have risked their lives to keep the country running to provide them with affordable, high-quality homes fit for heroes.

“The government should let councils take charge of the housing recovery, by giving them the powers and tools to build more of the affordable homes the country desperately needs.

“A programme of 100,000 social homes a year would not only meet a third of the government’s house-building target, but it would generate a range of social and economic benefits.

“Now is the time for a genuine renaissance in council house-building that reduces homelessness, gets people off the streets for good, supports people’s wellbeing and is climate-friendly.”

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