100,000 new affordable homes a year are needed to house key workers and families who have lost loved ones during the COVID-19 crisis, according to a Local Government Association (LGA) report.
The plan would not only boost the country’s supply of affordable housing, but also help regenerate the economy, reduce homelessness, and cut down on the demand for housing benefit, the cross-party body has said.
The LGA says a ‘genuine renaissance in council house-building’ would help the government hit its target of building 300,000 new homes a year.
Cllr David Renard, the LGA’s housing spokesperson, said: “As the nation comes through the biggest crisis we have faced since the Second World War, we owe it to the health, care and other essential public service workers, who have risked their lives to keep the country running to provide them with affordable, high-quality homes fit for heroes.
“The government should let councils take charge of the housing recovery, by giving them the powers and tools to build more of the affordable homes the country desperately needs.”
The LGA’s report, Delivery of council housing: Developing a stimulus package post-pandemic, found that investment in social housing would generate £320 billion for the nation over 50 years through increased economic activity.
Every £1 invested in a social home generates £2.84 in the wider economy, while every new social home saves £780 a year in housing benefit, it also found.
A large-scale social house-building programme would not only help reduce pressures on health and social care from poor housing conditions, but would also help provide homes for rough sleepers taken off the streets during the COVID-19 pandemic, it concluded.
Cllr Renard added: “A programme of 100,000 social homes a year would not only meet a third of the Government’s house-building target, but it would generate a range of social and economic benefits.
“Now is the time for a genuine renaissance in council house-building that reduces homelessness, gets people off the streets for good, supports people’s wellbeing and is climate-friendly.”
The LGA has urged the government to speed up council housing delivery by bringing forward and increasing its £12 billion extension of the Affordable Homes Programme announced in this year’s budget, placing increased emphasis on social housing.
The association also says that councils should be able to retain 100% of receipts from the sale of homes under the Right to Buy scheme.
The report adds to growing pressure on government from councils and the housing sector to put housebuilding at the heart of the UK’s economic recovery from COVID-19.