Tory council bosses say £2bn ‘nowhere near enough’ for new homes

Survey shows overwhelming support for government to commit more and also boost the number of low-cost rented homes.

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With the Social Housing Green Paper set for release within months, a survey shows Tory council bosses don’t believe £2bn is anywhere near enough to meet the need for new council homes.

According to the poll, 71% of 121 Tory council leaders say government should commit more as developers shun affordable schemes with small profit margins.

The survey – commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation – also found 96% of those leaders want the government to boost the number of low-cost rented homes in its upcoming Social Housing Green Paper.

Present policy puts an emphasis on home ownership, but successive statistics show ownership is on the wane.

Independent analysis suggests current construction of affordable housing falls short of the requirements by about 30,000 homes per year.

JRF is calling on the government to deliver at least 80,000 low-cost rented homes a year in order to make the housing market work for more people.

Campbell Robb, JRF chief executive, said: “Homelessness and poverty should have no place in our society. However, right now millions of people are locked out of being able to achieve a decent standard of living due to crippling rents.”

The publication of a green paper on social housing is expected within the next few months.

Ministers have pitched policies such as the Help to Buy scheme as backing first-time buyers, with government promising to deliver an average of 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s, up from 217,000 in 2016.

Lord Porter, chair of the Local Government Association and the Conservative leader of South Holland district council in Lincolnshire, said the last time Britain built more than 250,000 homes in a year, councils built 40% of them.

And they could, he said, do so again if government lifted the borrowing cap.

NHF head of policy, James Prestwich, warned government could not ignore the survey score.

“The prime pinister must listen to her party colleagues and follow through on her commitment to fixing our broken housing market.

“She should start by releasing the £2bn for social housing that she promised last year, and working with the sector to support the 145,000 affordable homes we need to build every year,” he said.

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