Local government leaders have said a “national renaissance” in council house building is needed to help solve the growing housing shortage and improve the quality of homes available to rent.
The Local Government Association (LGA), who represent 349 English Councils and 22 Welsh councils, say not enough has been invested in house-building for decades, resulting in nearly as much money being spent on maintenance and repairing old homes than building new ones.
Research carried out by the LGA reveals most local areas had more homes built before 1930 than at any other time. Without much-needed investment in genuinely affordable homes, the average home built in England will have to last 2,000 years.
Highlighting the rise in people renting privately, council leaders have also expressed concern that more than one in four (28%) privately rented homes do not pass decent homes standards, an increase of 150,000 since 2006.
Meanwhile, the number of council homes passing decent homes standards has increased from 70% in 2008 to 85% today.
The LGA insist a “national renaissance” in council house building is central to solving England’s housing shortage and improving the quality of homes, adding that a mix of different homes would help meet the needs of communities.
But the LGA say this won’t be possible without freeing up councils to borrow, as well as making changes to Government schemes that allow council tenants to buy their home. Councils should be allowed to keep 100% of the receipts from sales to reinvest in new and existing housing, the LGA says.
Cllr Judith Blake, LGA Housing spokesperson, said: “Our country’s failure to build enough homes over the past few decades is putting huge pressure on our existing housing stock.
“Families are having to spend more on rent or mortgages every month and deserve a decent home that is affordable. But as costs are rising, so is dissatisfaction with the standards of new homes.
“Everyone deserves an affordable and decent place to live. It’s crucial that all new and existing homes are up to a decent standard.
“Councils need to be able to ensure quality through the planning system, and to encourage high standards in rented and owned properties across the board.
“To spark a desperately-needed renaissance in council house-building, councils also need to able to borrow to build new homes and keep all receipts from any homes they sell to reinvest in building new homes that are of a good quality and affordable.”