Building to scale?
In response to today’s conference speech by Conservative Party leader Theresa May, in which she called for government to “get back into the business of building houses”, Localis chief executive Liam Booth-Smith said: “Theresa May was right in saying it would not be quick or easy to reignite home ownership in Britain once again.
“The reality of the situation is that last year just 1,490 homes were started by local authorities. As these numbers suggest, the majority of local government is not set up for the large-scale construction of housing anymore.
“An extra 100,000 more council homes built per year would mean the sector uprating its output by 5,435% – a staggering uplift.
“If government wants a new generation of new council homes it has to empower, resource and direct local authorities accordingly.
“Practically, it would take a fundamental shift in the mind-set and financial model of local authorities, the granting of greater powers over the compulsory purchase of land and a relaxation of Housing Revenue Account borrowing rules.
“And even with these additional powers and flexibilities this would be just one amongst many pressing demands on councils, not least social care.
“As things stand there is little evidence to suggest there is the capacity, resource or expertise for them to build at a scale or pace that would meet demand.”