100,000 affordable homes a year needed for key workers, urges report

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affordable homes,
© Thomas Gowanlock

100,000 new affordable homes are needed each year to provide housing fit for key workers who have fought Covid-19 on the frontline, according to a new report by the Local Government Association (LGA)

A post-Covid ‘building boom’ of 100,000 affordable homes a year is needed to provide housing fit for social care, health and other key workers and the families of those who lost their lives, according to the new report.

The LGA says councils must be given the powers to build thousands more council homes, where they are locally needed and lead the national recovery from the virus.

Not only will this boost the supply of affordable housing, it will also enable the country to get building again following a downturn in construction as a result of many housebuilders closing their sites.

In a new report, ‘Delivery of Council Housing – Developing a Stimulus Package Post-Pandemicthe LGA sets out a range of key issues and recommendations to government to deliver a new major building programme of social homes.

The report recommends:

  • Government should expand council housing delivery by bringing forward and increasing the £12bn extension of the Affordable Homes Programme announced in the Budget earlier this year, with an increased focus on homes for social rent.
  • Right to Buy should be reformed 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.
  • To increase the capacity of the building industry, which will have suffered following coronavirus, a skills and jobs strategy is needed to meet the needs of accelerating a social housing building programme.

The LGA said delivering 100,000 new social homes each year would also bring significant benefits to the national economy.

A ‘new generation’ of social housing

Research for the LGA and partners has found that investment in a new generation of social housing could return £320bn to the nation over 50 years. It also found that every £1 invested in a new social home generates £2.84 in the wider economy with every new social home generating a saving of £780 a year in housing benefit.

A large-scale social housebuilding programme, would also help meet the government’s 300,000 new homes a year target, and alleviate pressures on health and social care that result from poor housing conditions.

The reports says it would also help realise the government’s ambition of providing 6,000 new homes for rough sleepers taken off the streets during the pandemic.

Councillor David Renard, LGA housing spokesman, commented: “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.”

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