ARCH welcomed announcements on the future of housing finance
made on 1st February by housing minister Grant Shapps.
Commenting on government plans for councils to take on debt in
return for the ability to keep rental income set out in the
publication Implementing self-financing for council housing, ARCH
secretary John Bibby, director of housing and community services at
Lincoln City Council, said: 'ARCH has been campaigning vociferously
for the reform of the Housing Revenue Account subsidy system and we
are very pleased that announcements made today will enable its
members to move forward with self-financing plans. ARCH is looking
forward to dialogue between its members and government and hopes
for a firm and final commitment to a fully workable settlement as
soon as possible. ARCH members are concerned about the implications
of the re-opening the debt settlement for their authorities and
would ask that the circumstances under which debts would be
reopened are fully clarified.'
National chair of ARCH, Cllr Milan Radulovic of Broxtowe BC, said:
'After years of campaigning for a fairer council housing finance
system, ARCH is excited by the opportunity for greater local
control. As always, the devil is in the detail and ARCH members
will each be looking at how the deal stacks up for their particular
communities; there is a level of debt at which authorities can make
plans for the future and a level that is unsustainable.'
ARCH treasurer, Paul Price, head of Housing Services at Tendring
DC, said: 'ARCH is delighted to see that detail on the level of
debt and other arrangements which should allow councils to leave
the unfair HRA subsidy system have finally been set out. Work will
need to take place within each authority to calculate the impact,
but this is certainly a step in the right direction.'
He added: 'However, we are dismayed at the news that 75% of
receipts from right to buy sales will have to be handed to the
Treasury as we believe that it is critical that right to buy
receipts are kept locally. It is totally contrary to the first
principles of self financing and flies in the face of localism that
councils will not be able to fully manage their asset base to
generate income to deliver improvements to existing stock and to
assist in stock rationailisation. Whilst broadly welcoming the
overall plans, we would call on the government to rethink this
element of the proposals.'