The Government’s housing reforms will result in a rise in homelessness and “drastically reduce” the number of council homes, according to the Local Government Association (LGA).
An LGA survey shows that the vast majority of councils (90 percent) believe the extension of Right to Buy, cuts to social housing rents, and Pay To Stay, will have a devastating impact on the number of desperately needed council homes.
More than three-quarters (78 percent) said housing reforms will lead to a rise in homelessness, while 80 percent say the changes will push up demand for temporarily accommodation.
81 percent also believe council housing waiting lists could rise in the face of dwindling social housing stocks. And more than half of councils (58 percent) warned of a spiraling Housing Benefit bill, as more households are forced to rent in the private rented sector.
With the Housing and Planning Bill currently passing through the Lords, the LGA say councils should be allowed to keep 100 percent of the receipts from Right To Buy. This, they claim, would provide more flexibility for councils to replace the homes they sell.
The LGA is also calling for suitable protections from Pay To Stay for council tenants who are unable to afford local market rates, with earlier LGA research suggesting that tens of thousands could be forced out of their council homes.
Cllr Peter Box, LGA Housing spokesman, said: “Our survey shows many councils fear some aspects of the Housing and Planning Bill will all but end their ability to build new homes by cutting billions from local investment in new and existing council housing.
“Local authorities will also then be forced to sell existing council homes and will struggle to replace them and many are warning this will combine to drastically reduce the number of homes available in local communities.
“Local authorities are keen to get on with the job of building the new homes that people in their areas desperately need. Instead, housing reforms that reduce rents and force councils to sell their homes will make building new homes all but impossible.
“With 68,000 people already currently living in temporary accommodation, more than a million more on council waiting lists and annual homelessness spending of £330 million – there is a real fear that this lack of homes will increase homelessness and exacerbate our housing crisis.
“While private developers have a crucial role to play in solving our chronic housing shortage, it is clear that they cannot rapidly build the 230,000 needed each year alone.
“There is no silver bullet, but we will not resolve our housing crisis without a dramatic increase of all types of housing, including those for affordable and social rent alongside those to support home ownership.
“New homes are badly-needed and we will only see a genuine end to our housing crisis if councils are given the powers to get on with the job of building them too.”