Unlocking private investment will get councils building

Councils should look to the private sector to help make taxpayers’ pounds go further, an independent review has found.

In their interim report, Natalie Elphicke and Keith House highlight how innovative councils are already levering private finance to help deliver the homes for their communities – and how more councils could follow in their footsteps.

The building of new council homes is at a 23-year high – but today’s report (31 July 2014) suggests the potential for even more to be done.

Unlocking the potential of private investment
Across the country councils are making housing their top priority as improved economic growth creates the confidence and conditions for building more homes.

In their report today, Ms Elphicke and Mr House argue that councils could significantly boost their housebuilding plans using more private sector investment.

Natalie Elphicke said:

“In this next stage of the review we will focus on how councils can access and harness private finance. In particular, strengthening the relationship between councils, industry experts, business and private finance could help councils to realise their housing ambitions and support their communities.”

Keith House said:

“The response to our call to evidence has been excellent and councils across the country are showing how they are thinking more innovatively and ambitiously to put housing on the centre stage.”

The next stage of the review will examine the challenges the local authorities have said can temper their ambitions and look at the ways that these can be overcome.

Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said:

“Thanks to our long-term economic plan, we’re creating the conditions to enable councils to make housebuilding their number one priority – and we’re already seeing the results, with council housebuilding now at a 23-year high.”

But this report from Natalie Elphicke and Keith House clearly shows there’s untapped potential out there for councils to secure private investment in their plans and deliver the homes their communities want.

By doing this, we can change plans on paper into real properties, helping families move into new homes and creating jobs along the way.

Greater transparency to lead to more homes
In their report Mrs Elphicke and Mr House also highlight the need for greater transparency by councils, to lead to more housebuilding.

This includes ensuring people in the local area can see the wider benefits to the community of new homes and how they meet assessed local housing need, but also greater transparency over the land and assets available for housebuilding – including council land.

The review will now also examine how best to boost skills, capacity, and the pace of housebuilding by councils, and how smaller sites can be made available for more homes.

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