An influential group of MPs has demanded extra funds be made available to enable local authorities to build 90,000 new social homes a year to ensure the target of 300,000 new homes is met.
A report by the Housing, Community and Local Government Committee (HCLG) says that only a significant increase in the financial support available to councils will fund the uplift necessary to resolve the current housing crisis.
The MPs also said that the increased funding must be accompanied by broader reforms to make more land affordable and to harness all the money raised through Right To Buy property sales.
They argue that Britain’s housing crisis is getting worse with 83,700 households being forced to live in temporary accommodation – a rise of 82% since 2010.
The number of people sleeping rough has risen by 165% in the same timescale. It estimates 90,000 new homes must be built each year to stop the swcline.
The report claims the nation’s housing stock has been diminishing every year with over a million homes lost to the sector since 1981 and only 6,827 new homes were built last year.
It also warned that social and economic pressures from the on-going pandemic will put the social housing sector under even more strain.
Considering ways to finance the increase, the MPs suggest that reforming land value capture, using public land to build on and redistributing the existing budget could reduce the borrowing costs by up to 40%.
Reducing the use of private rental properties to shore up the existing system would contribute by creating a significant reduction in the housing benefit bill.
The committee believes that although local authorities would benefit from the removal of the existing borrowing cap it will not provide enough finance for the size of the project and grant funding of £10 billion will still be needed.
It claims investing in the scheme will provide an economic boost that will pay for itself over time as well as providing much needed building jobs during the pandemic.
The HCLG Committee is keen for the government to reconsider how it disposes of public land instead of just selling to the highest bidder as is currently the case. Councils should also be given a longer window in which to spend the 100% of revenue they receive from Right To Buy sales.
Committee chairman Clive Betts said: “The collapse of social housing building since the 1980s has had terrible consequences on our ability to provide adequate housing for those who need it.
“The last decade has seen a surge in families living in temporary accommodation and people rough sleeping, while at the same time we have come to rely on the private rental sector to shore up the creaking social housing capacity.
“We need at least 90,000 new homes a year to get to the level of social housing we need, but this is achievable.
“This must be a long-term commitment to creating a social housing system that meets long-term demand.
It will be challenging but it is achievable.”