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Housing

SIGOMA calls on the Government to:

  • Ensure adequate investment is provided to deliver future housing needs
  • Deliver local solutions that meet the needs of individual communities
  • Deliver flexibility of funding for Local Authorities to lead on housing provision
  • Deliver solutions that support the worklessness agenda

Increasing the supply of homes is a key priority for the Government. A growing population, paired with a growing number of people who live alone has resulted in a continually rising demand for homes, while supply and demand for new housing had fallen dramatically over the same period.

There has been good progress made in increasing the housing supply in recent years but there is an urgent need to go further and build more homes.

-     In 2007/08 SIGOMA areas provided 40,000 additional homes out of the 167,000 provided in total (24%). However, on a per person basis, SIGOMA provided fewer homes per person than most other English regions in 2007/08.

-     Nationally, judging by past year levels, local authorities will fall short of the new government target of 70,000 new affordable homes a year, with an average of 44,790 built per year since 2004/05. SIGOMA contributed only 14% of the increase in affordable housing over this period.

The Government’s vision is that by March 2011 there will be an increase in housing supply in England especially in the provision of social rented and other affordable homes.

-     Nearly 18 million households were on waiting lists for local authority Registered Social Landlords housing in 2008, 33% of these were SIGOMA households.

Central and local government will both play crucial roles in the delivery of new and affordable housing. Communities and Local Government will set the national policy direction for local government and ensure that the new local government performance framework, through Local Area Agreements plays an effective role in driving local housing and delivery.

Through their strategic housing role, local authorities will plan for future housing needs of the population across all tenures, make the best use of existing housing stock and facilitate new supply. Clearly, the provision of appropriate and affordable housing is also vital to the economic and social regeneration of our communities.

The current funding system for social housing does not provide the flexibility that is now required if local solutions are to be developed that will start to address the complex needs of different areas

The Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Subsidy System

The current housing finance system is under review with an aim to work towards a long term sustainable system for financing council housing, possibly allowing local authorities to retain their own rental income and become independent. SIGOMA authorities currently are net recipients of subsidy, receiving an average of £185 million per year over the last five years. Any move to retention of rental incomes locally would see significant benefits for non-SIGOMA authorities and require significant additional resources from the Government to maintain existing levels for those currently having insufficient resources.

We need to recognise the positive role housing can play be offering greater incentives to work and the ongoing incentives and rewards that housing can offer the economically inactive. SIGOMA areas will need to ensure that the developing Local Area Agreements address local housing needs more effectively.

Achieving a balanced housing market by getting the local numbers right, raising the quality of the stock and neighbourhoods and improving the way residents are able to access affordable homes will be crucial for the success of out communities in the future.

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