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Theresa May condemned for blaming housing crisis on councils

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Theresa May condemned for blaming housing crisis on councils

Theresa May has been condemned for blaming housing crisis on councils, says the LGA. Who is to blame? The question being thrown at the government for the part they play in our housing crisis, Barbara Onwumere investigates

The LGA better known as the local government associates have criticised Theresa May over a speech she is to give on the housing crisis in which she will accuse “nimby councils” of being barriers to increasing the housing supply. The prime minister’s speech will also criticise the “perverse incentive” of multimillion-pound bonuses for housing industry chief executives based on profits rather than the number of homes built.

Her focus on the apparent obstruction by some councils prompted a robust response from Gary Porter, who chairs the Local Government Association and is the Conservative leader of South Holland council in Lincolnshire. He said that over the past 12 months, councils had granted nearly twice as many planning permissions as the number of new homes that had been completed: “Since 2010, home ownership has fallen to a 30-year low, rough sleeping has more than doubled and the number of new homes being built still hasn’t recovered to pre-recession levels… Nearly three-quarters (73%) of planning refusals are upheld on appeal, vindicating councils’ original decisions. It is completely wrong, therefore, to suggest the country’s failure to build the housing it desperately needs is down to councils.” He also said the government proposal to put independent inspectors in place where councils were seen to be blocking housing development was: “unhelpful and misguided”.

The primary way to boost numbers was to allow councils to borrow money to build their own homes, he said. This idea was suggested last year by the housing and communities secretary, Sajid Javid, but blocked by the Treasury. In a round of broadcast interviews before May’s speech on Monday, Javid said many people felt locked out of the housing market, with prices in some areas now 10 times average earnings. At the speech in London, May will unveil a series of measures, previously outlined in the government’s housing white paper, in an attempt to boost the speed of housebuilding and ease prices.

 

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