Housing Minister John Healey and the Local Government Association (LGA) have announced they are launching joint
work to look at how councils can deliver new homes to tackle the shortage of affordable housing and help drive economic growth.
A new Commission chaired by Lord Richard Best and made up of council chief executives, housing association chief executives and academics, will assess what councils are already achieving and advise on ways councils could play an even greater part helping to build the homes of all types the country needs, as well as extending their strategic housing role to better meet local needs and aspirations.
Since becoming Housing Minister in June last year, John Healey has got underway the biggest council house building programme for two decades. Over 4,000 new council homes are being built in 87 local authority areas.
Government and the LGA want to harness the determination in local councils led by all political parties for building new council homes and sustain increased levels of construction over the years to come.
The Commission will assess how councils are currently meeting the need for affordable homes for rent and for first time buyers, and how this can be expanded – including what can be done to remove any obstacles to this. It will also consider how local authority assets and land can be best used for housing and what extra skills and expertise are needed by council staff.
Housing Minister John Healey said:
"Councils have shown that they are ready and willing to build new homes and Government is backing them to do it. Earlier this year I doubled the amount of Government cash for council building to boost the number of new homes being built to over 4,000.
"The biggest council house building programme for two decades is underway. But I’m determined that this is not a one off and want to find ways to strengthen the hand of local councils further.
"These experts in housing and local government will look at how councils can extend their strategic housing role to better meet local needs and aspirations. I want ideas about what councils can do themselves, and what they can do working with others, such as housebuilders and housing association partners, using the full range of powers at their disposal, and any potential new powers deemed necessary. I look forward to receiving their report in the Summer and am confident it will help strengthen this new era of council housebuilding already underway."
Lord Richard Best said:
"Cross-Party support for greater devolution to the local level means all local authorities are thinking through how best to meet the housing needs of their area. The Commission will bring together the new ideas and successful innovations which local government is now pursuing, with input form CLG and the LGA.
"I am delighted to chair a group that will include some of the foremost practitioners and creative thinkers in the housing sector and I hope the outcome will be a significant contribution to the output of the additional homes which this country so desperately needs."
Source: © Communities and Local Government