Today the Conservatives announce that they will offer to strike new deals with the most ambitious councils and housing associations, giving them funding, capacity support and new powers to build a new generation of homes for social rent.
In the last twenty years, the decline in local authority house building has left England with a dwindling social housing stock as demand for housing has risen. In the 1960s and 1970s, councils built more than a million homes a decade, but now build just a few hundred homes a year. While housing associations have met much of this gap, there are currently 300,000 fewer homes for social rent than twenty years ago and around 1.2 million families on local authority waiting lists for a social tenancy.
Theresa May’s Conservatives will tackle this problem, by offering to support the most ambitious councils and housing associations build thousands of new homes, in exchange for them building a new generation of fixed term, high quality council homes linked to a new right to buy for social tenants.
Under the deals, the Government would give councils and housing associations funding and make available house building capability from the Homes and Communities Agency. Councils would be able to assemble land, including derelict buildings or unused pocket sites, more easily under reformed compulsory purchase rules. The deals would require a proportion of the social homes built to be sold after ten to fifteen years, allowing increases in land and housing value to be reinvested in new social housing over time. The tenant would receive the first right to buy on the property at the point of sale.
The Conservatives expect councils in urban areas to make most use of the deals, assembling industrial land in cities and re-purposing it for development of much-needed homes at social rents. The fact that these some of these homes will be sold after a limited period will ensure that developers consider the private value of homes, improving quality, and return funding for new social homes.
Prime Minister Theresa May said:
A Conservative Government led by me will not duck the big challenges we face as a nation and there are few issues that are greater than the need for good-quality, affordable housing.
Whether you rent or buy, everyone needs the security of a place to call home but too many ordinary working families are stuck on council waiting lists, facing unaffordable rents and struggling to save for that first deposit.
That’s why we will fix the broken housing market and support local authorities and housing associations to build a new generation of council homes right across the country. Giving tenants a new right to buy these homes when they go on the market will help thousands of people get on the first rung of the housing ladder, and fixed terms will make sure money is reinvested so we have a constant supply of new homes for social rent.
It is part of my determination to build a better Britain our children and grandchildren are proud to call home and where everyone has the chance to get on in life. But this is only possible through the strong economic management we will continue to provide – in contrast to the economic ruin that a coalition of chaos led by backward-looking Jeremy Corbyn would bring to our nation.