Housing Minister Brandon Lewis today (9 October 2014) announced new powers for councils to help them build new affordable homes across the country.
The minister confirmed that 22 councils will be able to borrow an additional £122 million over the next 2 years to deliver over 1,700 new affordable homes and support local growth.
But with £178 million still up for grabs, Mr Lewis argued that more councils should be putting themselves forward – especially as many have asked for the very borrowing powers that are being offered.
Building more affordable homes
Housebuilding is a central part of the government’s long-term economic plan: since 2010 nearly half a million new homes have been delivered, including 200,000 affordable homes.
In 2012, the government changed the Housing Revenue Account subsidy system so councils keep all the rents they collect from their homes, and all receipts from any sales of houses or land, giving them the freedom to invest them in building new homes.
Most recently, council housing starts have hit a 23-year high.
Already, 16 councils have been given the go-ahead to borrow £62 million in additional funds to deliver over 1,000 new affordable homes.
Today, Mr Lewis confirmed that a further £60 million borrowing would be made available including to 6 new councils.
This takes the total to £122 million additional borrowing powers granted to 22 councils, to deliver over 1,700 new affordable homes over the next 2 years.
But Mr Lewis said this was just the first step: with just 1 week left to bid for the second round of extra borrowing available, he challenged councils who had not already done so to come forward.
Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said:
Today, I’m giving borrowing powers to 22 councils who over the next 2 years will use that to build over 1,700 new affordable homes for their communities.
It’s one of the many things we’ve done that have got Britain building – with housebuilding levels now at their highest since 2007 and climbing.
But with £178 million additional borrowing still up for grabs I want more councils to do their bit, to follow in the footsteps of these 22, and bid for the very powers they asked for.
Ministers are clear that the programme is a responsible way to offer councils extra borrowing powers, but confirmed there were no plans to remove borrowing limits as any extra council borrowing would count as additional public debt at a time when the government’s clear priority is to cut the deficit.
The 6 councils receiving new borrowing powers from today are:
- Cannock Chase Council – who will receive £1 million additional borrowing powers to deliver 21 new affordable homes
- London Borough of Ealing – who will receive £15.4 million additional borrowing powers to deliver 99 new affordable homes
- London Borough of Sutton – who will receive £4.1 million additional borrowing powers to deliver 100 new affordable homes
- Northampton Borough Council – who will receive £8.6 million additional borrowing powers to deliver 90 new affordable homes
- Thurrock Council – who will receive £11.6 million additional borrowing powers to deliver 193 new affordable homes
- West Lancashire District Council – who will receive £2.5 million additional borrowing powers to deliver 39 new affordable homes
See a full list of the 22 councils.
View details of how councils can apply through the second round of the Housing Revenue Account borrowing programme.