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Councils win larger share of new HCA allocations Matthew Warburton - 25/07/2014

Big_pig_300Forty councils will receive funding from the Homes and Communities Agency under its 2015/18 affordable homes programme, a big increase over the 19 receiving grant in the 2011/14 programme. They include many ARCH members. Birmingham will get funding for 147 homes, Sheffield for 45 and Epping Forest for 40 grant-aided and 17 nil-grant units.


The largest allocations go to stock-retaining councils Hull, for 634 homes, and Leeds, for 408. In addition, 13 London boroughs will get funding for affordable homes from the Mayor of London.


These allocations provide further confirmation that councils are planning substantially to increase the number of new homes they are building. Recipients of funding include several participants at the recent ARCH seminar in Derby, among them Mansfield, North Kesteven and South Derbyshire.


They also include two of the councils named by Inside Housing as those with the largest unallocated borrowing power. Barnsley will get £440,000 to provide 37 new homes. Wigan council will get £1.9 million to provide 88 homes, while £560,000 will go to its ALMO, Wigan and Leigh Housing, for a further 24. Whether or not these councils are planning to use their full borrowing power in the immediate future, they cannot be accused of having no plans to build.


The overall pattern of allocations, both by the HCA and the London Mayor, shows a shift away from the largest housing associations to councils and smaller associations.


This may be in part because they are now more likely to use their own resources, both because of their current financial strength and, particularly in London and the South East, because of concerns that the affordable rents which are a condition of programme funding are beyond the reach of many tenants.


But whatever the reasons for the big associations' partial withdrawal from bidding, councils have shown a clear appetite to take up the slack. Many councils are also planning to build without grant assistance.

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