House/Elphick review of the Local Authority Role in Housing Supply
Keith House, the Lib Dem leader of Eastleigh Council, has co-authored a report on different steps that local authorities can take in improving housing supply in their areas – including a call for councils to provide more of their own housing outside the Housing Revenue Account, and recommended further steps that both Government, councils and the LGA could take to support this.
Here is a Summary :
From statutory provider to Housing Delivery Enabler – The Elphicke-House Report
An independent review commissioned in Autumn Statement 2013 by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury and CLG Sec of State to look at the role of councils in housing supply, looking particularly at councils’ ability to develop, manage land, and how housing can be financed. The full report contains 30 recommendations to government, all local authorities (not just those with an HRA or housing responsibilities) and the LGA.
Councils can have the confidence to take responsibility for the whole development process and not just process planning applications but enable housing completions – they don’t need to ask permission
Councils have the ability to ‘plug the gap’ in the housing market beyond housing supply from the big builders: but there’s a skills shortage that needs to be addressed
Councils are as efficient as housing associations in developing new stock
Building – councils should look to develop themselves, either directly, or in partnership with RSLs or private developers, including through off-balance sheet companies
Finance – councils use their borrowing powers and leverage to develop, and local Pension Funds are set a 3% investment challenge for housing and infrastructure development
Land – there should be an electronic platform to access all public land, and councils should have a direction power to bring underutilised public sites forward for development
Support – with the LGA a new Housing & Finance Institute should be set up to provide advice to the sector – like a cross between PAS and early 4Ps – given massive skills shortage around property, finance and development
HRA and social housing –
- Govt raises threshold for number of “Council” homes that can be owned by the Council outside the HRA for all councils to 200
- Govt simplifies consents where councils want to build outside the HRA
- Transparency code should be extended to HRA
- Government should publicise freedoms on site disposals, and clarify rules on disposals
Right to buy –
- Government should seek to enable councils to achieve 1:1 replacement locally through flexibility in borrowing
- Procurement & Skills –
- Best practice should be developed to open up development panels to SMEs/new entrants
- Councils should regularly test vfm on contracts
- Government should look to develop more support for small builders
Rural housing –
- Councils including Counties support Rural Housing Enablers, funded from development
Excellent piece; similar discussions going on in Chelmsford.
NB The above link to Chris W's article is badly formed (easily done, I know).