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

 

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The Local Authority role in Housing Supply Matthew Warburton - 22/05/2014

ARCH_subm_300ARCH has made its submission to the Independent Review of the local authority role in housing supply, established by CLG and led by Nathalie Elphick and Keith House. You can read it here. It begins by acknowledging that there is a need to substantially increase the supply of housing in most parts of the country and councils have an important role to play in making this happen. 

 

Stock-owning councils have a particular contribution to make. They are already planning a significant increase in local authority housebuilding, but could do more with appropriate help and support from Government, including some adjustments to the current legal framework.

 

The Review's terms of reference preclude it making any recommendation that would increase government borrowing, so lifting debt caps - beyond the additional £300 million already announced - is ruled out. However, the submission points out the advantages of development in the HRA are argues that the Government should encourage and help councils to make the maximum use of the borrowing that is available to them within debt limits. 

 

Some councils will want to do more, and the Review team are particularly interested in partnership initiatives of various kinds between councils and developers, housing associations and financial institutions. The ARCH submission points out that there are plenty of innovative development models being tried and tested by councils across the country, but nearly all of the councils involved are cities, London Boroughs or large unitaries. 

 

This, we argue, is because the costs of setting up and maintaining partnership arrangements are substantial, and the necessary skills and capacities unlikely to be easily available to a smaller district council perhaps contemplating development on a smaller scale. 

 

If such councils - and they are a majority of ARCH members - cannot find the resources they need from within their HRAs, and wish to pursue the option of developing in partnership, ways should be found to enable them to benefit from the experience of other councils, and to help them with or enable them to share the costs of setting up and operating partnership vehicles.

 

As a first step in helping councils to share experience and ideas in relation to housing development, the ARCH Executive decided this week to organize a seminar in the East Midlands to explore the issues and identify potential solutions. It is likely to take place in the first half of July. Details will be posted on the ARCH website in due course.

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