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The ARCH annual report for 2015-16 is now available to view.

 

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ARCH opens discussions with DCLG on bespoke deals 07/03/2017

In December 2016 ARCH, the National Federation of ALMOs (NFA), the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) and the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) wrote to Gavin Barwell, Housing Minister, to make a proposal for stimulating local authority investment in housing. The proposal included three potential pilot authorities - ARCH members, Sheffield City Council and Stoke-on-Trent City Council and NFA member, Newark and Sherwood Homes. 

 

The idea was that these authorities (and potentially many more if the idea were made widely available) would commit to significant additional development programmes in exchange for agreed concessions on rents policy, right to buy receipts and borrowing caps. Such concessions would enable stock retained authorities to release the potential for investment in their housing revenue accounts without necessarily requiring additional government grant.

 

The government's Housing White Paper published in February 2017, gave some encouragement to our proposal. Although it contained no proposals for a universal increase on borrowing caps, it did give a commitment to set out, in due course, a rent policy for social landlords for the period beyond 2020. Crucially the White Paper promised to "back local authorities to build" and stated that the government were "interested in the scope for bespoke housing deals with authorities in high demand areas which have a genuine ambition to build".

 

On 2 March 2017, at the invitation of the Housing Minister, representatives from ARCH/NFA/CIH/CIPFA and the three authorities involved met with officials at DCLG to open discussions on the proposals submitted. Those discussions were very positive and while it is still early days, no agreement was reached on what such bespoke deals might look like it was agreed to continue discussions with DCLG and a further meeting has been arranged for mid-April.

 

Following the meeting ARCH/NFA/CIH/CIPFA issued the following joint press statement:

 

"The government said in its housing white paper it would consider making deals with individual councils so that they can once again play an important role in housing delivery.

 

"This is something that our organisations have been making the case for, for some time now, and it's excellent to see government follow up on that promise by getting local authorities and industry bodies around the table to work out a way forward.

 

"Together with ARCH members Sheffield City Council, Stoke-on-Trent City Council and NFA member Newark & Sherwood Homes we met with officials from DCLG last week and we look forward to continuing to discuss with government how we can turn this proposal into concrete actions that will back councils to build the much needed new homes the country needs."

 

We will keep ARCH members advised of progress via future ARCH bulletins. In the meantime, John Bibby, ARCH Chief Executive, would like to hear from any other ARCH member who have a genuine ambition to build and might be interested in entering into similar bespoke deals. 

 

If your council is interested and would like to know more, please contact John via email at john.bibby@arch-housing.org.uk before Thursday 20 April when we are next due to meet DCLG officials. 

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