Localism bill 'too centrist'

The LGA claims the localism bill jeopardises the building of 100,000 new homes
The LGA claims the localism bill jeopardises the building of 100,000 new homes

By Hannah Brenton

The localism bill's provisions on council housing have come under fire from the Local Government Association (LGA) for being too centrist.

The LGA claims that Treasury interference could jeopardise the building of 100,000 new homes over the next four years and hamper the ability of councils to improve existing houses.

The bill, designed to give power back to local communities, does not go far enough, according to the LGA, which represents more than 350 councils in England and Wales.

It wants local authorities to have complete control over the money raised from the sale of council housing.

Under the localism bill, the Treasury would handle 75% of those sales. The LGA wants all of that money to stay in the council's hands.

The councils also want a provision scrapped from the bill that would allow the secretary of state to increase the amount councils pay in the future and called for the removal of government-imposed limits on the amount councils can borrow for housing.

Cllr Gary Porter, chairman of the LGA's housing and environment board, said councils should be allowed to keep the money raised from their rents.

"Councils must be able to retain their rents so they have then money to improve properties for current tenants and build new houses for those who need them. Self-financing - if done properly - would achieve this aim, but it would appear that the Treasury isn't willing to let go," he said.

The localism bill ran counter to the principle of self-financing, he added.

"You can't talk about supporting localism but then impose limits on local borrowing or take local revenue away after both sides have agreed the settlement figure."


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