Largest English council landlords call for action on crisis in council housing financing

7 March 2024

Directors from the largest council landlords in England, are coming together (w/c 11 March) to discuss ‘the increasing threat to the future of our country’s council housing’ and agree what is needed to save and secure the system.

The Future of Council Housing summit, being hosted by Southwark Council on 12 March, is the first of its kind, bringing together the country’s largest local authority social landlords, each managing around 20,000 council homes or more.

The Leaders of 16 of these Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat-led authorities have issued a joint statement warning that ‘rising costs and shrinking income have stretched council housing financing to breaking point’ and that it is increasingly challenging to keep the homes they manage warm, decent and safe - and even harder to deliver new homes, despite having developments in train.

Representing towns and cities across the country, the councils agree that good homes are ‘essential for good health, stable work and education’ and are calling for urgent action from the government to enable them to deliver the new homes and upgrades their communities need.

The Summit will inform a major report, authored by respected housing policy experts Toby Lloyd and Rose Grayston, to be published in June. It will set out a comprehensive plan to fix a broken financial model and enable councils to play their part in addressing the national housing crisis.

Local authority Housing Revenue Account (HRA) self-financing was introduced by the government in 2012, with a settlement that many local authorities now argue has been undermined by government decisions since. HRA budgets have been squeezed by centrally imposed caps on their income and many new, costly requirements, which together with high inflation and interest rates, is now forcing councils to slow or stop developments and vital maintenance to homes.

Councillor Kieron Williams, Leader of Southwark Council, said: “Council homes provide affordable and decent homes to our communities and are a critical foundation for a good life. This cross-party strength of feeling must send a warning to the government that we have now reached a critical point and the future of council housing in England is under threat.

“In Southwark, it is our top priority to deliver the new homes our community needs and the critical upgrades to keep our existing residents safe, comfortable and warm. Our national leaders all talk about the importance of council homes to our country, but they are making it impossible for us to deliver our ambitions. However, this Summit will agree a pragmatic and practical plan for a new financial settlement with government that will get us back on track.”

Leaders of the 16 councils involved in the project, and attending the Summit, have issued the following joint statement: “As 16 of the largest council landlords in England, we are gathering this week to discuss the increasing threat to the future of our country’s council housing. An affordable, decent home is a foundation for a good life – essential for good health, stable work and education. Council homes will play a crucial role in solving the national housing crisis.

“However, a broken financial model is making our vital work to ensure our residents’ homes are warm, decent and safe increasingly challenging – let alone our ability to build the new homes our communities need. Rising costs and shrinking income have stretched council housing financing to breaking point, putting our plans to build and improve homes at risk. The next government must take urgent action to fix the foundations of our country’s council housing”.

  • Cllr Kieron Williams, Leader of Southwark Council
  • Cllr Jayne Francis, Cabinet Member for Housing & Homelessness, Birmingham City Council
  • Cllr Georgia Gould, Leader of Camden Council
  • Cllr Laura Taylor-Childs, Cabinet Member for Housing and Safer Communities, Dudley Council
  • Cllr Anthony Okereke, Leader of the Royal Borough of Greenwich.
  • Mayor Caroline Woodley, Hackney Council
  • Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Leader of Islington Council
  • Cllr Michael Ross, Leader of Hull City Council
  • Kirklees Council
  • Cllr Claire Holland, Leader of Lambeth Council
  • Cllr Elly Cutkelvin, Lead member for Housing, Leicester City Council
  • Cllr Brenda Dacres, Mayor of Lewisham Council
  • Cllr Chris Read, Leader of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council
  • Cllr Laura Rollins, Cabinet Member for Housing & Built Environment, Sandwell Council
  • Cllr Tom Hunt, Leader of Sheffield City Council
  • Cllr David Molyneux MBE, Leader of Wigan Council

Page last updated: 11 March 2024

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