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Covid-19: Councils call for 100,000 social homes a year to aid recovery

Words: Laura Edgar

The Local Government Association (LGA) has called for councils to be given the powers to build thousands of ‘desperately needed’ council homes to ‘spearhead’ the recovery from Covid-19.

Post-pandemic, 100,000 affordable homes are needed to provide housing for key workers and the families of those who lost their lives to the virus. This would also address the downturn in construction because of the virus as housebuilders closed their sites, the LGA argues. 

Such a programme would also benefit the economy, help the government to achieve its target to deliver 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s, and alleviate pressures on health and social care that result from poor housing conditions, according to the LGA.

Delivery of Council Housing – Developing a Stimulus Package Post-Pandemic sets out the key issues and recommendations for the government to deliver a social housebuilding programme. 

These include:

  • Council housing delivery should be expanded by bringing forward and increasing the £12 billion extension of the Affordable Homes Programme announced in the 2020 Budget, with an increased focus on social rent homes.
  • Right to Buy should be reformed – councils should be able to retain 100 per cent of receipts from the sale of homes under the scheme. The deadline by which the money from sales is spent should be extended to at least five years, and councils should be given the power to set the size of discounts locally.
  • A skills and jobs strategy is required to increase capacity in the building industry to help to accelerate a social housing building programme.

David Renard, housing spokesman for the LGA, 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 housebuilding target, but it would generate a range of social and economic benefits.

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

Delivery of Council Housing – Developing a Stimulus Package Post-Pandemic can be found on the LGA website (pdf).

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