Nottingham Labour believes in council housing, we want to build more, but the Conservatives are making it hard for us. The number of houses we have been able to deliver has been nowhere near the number that have been sold in recent years. The reasons for this are:
- We are only allowed to use right to buy receipts to fund 30% of the cost of a scheme, the remainder must be funded through borrowing on the Housing Revenue Account which is in turn limited by central Government;
- We are only allowed to spend the money on a very narrow range of housing types and it cannot be given to our ALMO Nottingham City Homes.
- There is a very limited timescale to use the money and development sites can involve long lead in times to acquire, prepare and plan.
In the 2017 Autumn Statement, it was announced that local authorities with demand for new homes would be allowed to raise their Housing Revenue Account cap. However the Government has now announced that Nottingham will not be allowed to apply to raise the cap. The Conservatives have adopted a perverse set of criteria that has led to extraordinary situation where only 104 Councils can extend their borrowing cap – 91 of which are in the South, and the vast majority of which are Conservative controlled councils. We are left with the bizarre situation where Rushcliffe are eligible to extend their cap, despite the fact that we have 4 times the number of people on the housing waiting list and over 7 times the number of homelessness acceptances.
The Chartered Institute of Housing called for the suspension of the Right to Buy in order to support the delivery of the affordable homes the country needs. We will also have very soon the so called “voluntary” right to buy for housing association tenants being piloted in our region, potentially leading to further loss of social homes which are not being properly replaced. In the present housing crisis this Tory Government must consider the impact that the right to buy is having, and at the very least review the rules for the expenditure of right to buy receipts to make the “1-4-1” commitment a reality, as well as allowing councils like Nottingham to borrow to fund the council house building that we want to do.
Cllr Jane Urquhart
Portfolio Holder for Housing and Planning