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9th March 2018

Statement from Martin Swales, Solace spokesperson on Economic Prosperity and Housing, in response to Theresa May’s housing speech

The Prime Minister’s recent speech tackling the supply of affordable housing is warmly welcomed.

Our 2016 survey of Local Authorities identified high land value and build costs, land banking and lack of available finance as some of the main barriers to delivering housing.

In order to bring the Prime Minister’s plans to life and ‘build enough of the right homes in the right places,’ we would like to see greater freedoms for Councils to engage in direct delivery at a local level.

The announcements this week provide additional enabling tools in the crucial relationship between local authorities, developers and house builders. The overwhelming majority of planning permissions are granted approval but evidence tells us that less than half result in homes being built. The upcoming Letwin Review will look at the gap between the number of planning permissions granted versus build rates in areas of high demand. The evidence from the review should, therefore, provide a further platform for positive change and ongoing dialogue with Government about powers to ensure granted planning permissions result in homes being built on the ground.

Building homes that are truly affordable is essential to ensuring supply matches demand. We remain hopeful that the HRA borrowing cap will be removed for all Councils. It is a move that the Treasury Select Committee, alongside many in the sector, agree would allow Councils to build more homes for their communities.

Solace is dedicated to working with Government to provide local solutions that support the commitment to deliver more and better homes. If we are to meet national housing targets, local government will play an essential role in delivery. A key way to ‘build enough of the right homes in the right places’ is to give Councils the financial freedom to deliver affordable homes where we know they are most needed.