Published: 29th Apr 2020

Council-owned housing companies have ramped up the number of new homes they hope to build by more than 70%, according to a new survey.

The survey by the National Federation of Arms-Length Management Organisations (ALMOs) found 30 council-owned companies plan on building 12,352 houses over the next five years.

This represents a 70% increase on the total target in December 2018, which was 7,265.

According to the Federation, this is partly due to the lifting of the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) cap, along with a ‘more stable policymaking environment’.

The survey also found that while ALMOS built or bought 1,961 homes last year, 2,348 were sold off under the controversial Right to Buy programme.

And over the next 12 months, the survey found the ALMO sector plans to build 2,567 new homes and acquire 904 homes, a total of 3,471 homes.

‘Even before the pandemic, there were already other increasing and pressing demands on HRA funds – building safety work, extra staff costs to lessen the impact of welfare reform, and rising homelessness,’ said Federation managing director, Eamon McGoldrick.

‘We are still waiting for the Social Housing White Paper, a response to the Right to Buy consultation, and clear proposals for building safety reform that will make it possible to predict the future costs involved. All will have implications for how much money is in the HRA pot – and that’s before we understand the full cost of the COVID-19 crisis.

‘Perhaps the most important pillar of our national response to that will be how we tackle housing need. Precious public money will have to be spent in a way that both kick-starts the economy and spreads the benefit as widely as possible,’ added Mr McGoldrick.

The full results of the Federation’s 2019 survey are available to read here.

Photo Credit – Mastersenaiper (Pixabay)

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