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ARCH and NFA meet the Housing Minister 06/12/2018 Labelled as Development

ARCH Chair Councillor, Kim Caddy and ARCH Chief Executive John Bibby, together with NFA Chair Hugh Broadbent and NFA Managing Director Eamon McGoldrick met the Housing Minister, Kit Malthouse to make the case for council housing.


The meeting took place in the House of Commons on 27 November 2018. ARCH had called for the meeting following Mr. Malthouse appointment as Housing Minister on 9 July 2018 and many of the matters on which we had been pressing the government to act, including the scrapping of the High Value Asset Levy and the lifting of HRA borrowing cap, had been delivered in the interim.


We were therefore able to thank the Minister for providing greater certainty to local authorities in developing their HRA Business Plans and planning investment in council housing and were told to expect the government's response to the recent consultation on use of Right to Buy receipts "soon" and a response to the Social Housing Green Paper in "Spring" of next year.


We pressed the case for even greater certainty and suggested to the Minister that as the lifting of the HRA debt cap was simply a permission to borrow against future rental income, longer term certainty over rent policy would aid investment in new housing and a longer 10-year social rent policy would be preferable to the existing 5-year policy.


The lifting of the HRA debt cap will undoubtedly place an expectation on councils that they will deliver significantly greater numbers of new council housing over the next few years and we raised concerns about the need for government to recognise and support the need for increased skills and capacity in the sector and to work with the sector to build that capacity.   


We also raised with the Minister the proposals in the Social Housing Green Paper for production of a suite of performance indicators and "league tables" referring the Minister to our response to the Green Paper and our concerns about the effectiveness of league tables and our willingness to work with the MHCLG and the Regulator to draft a set of workable performance indicators that would help tenants hold landlords to account.


We also raised the opportunity to tackle some of the stigma attached to social housing and to celebrate the centenary in 2019 of the passing of the 1919 Housing & Town Planning Act, (commonly known as the "Addison Act"), which enabled local authorities for the first time to develop council housing at scale to provide "Homes fit or heroes" after the ending of WW1. The Minister expressed some enthusiasm for the idea and agreed that his officials would follow this up with further discussions.


The Minister recognised the work undertaken by ARCH and the NFA and agreed to keep in regular contact through his officials.

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