Government green light for 2000 council homes

This major cash injection is part of the Prime Minister’s £1.5 billion Housing Pledge announced in Building Britain’s Future in June. This commitment to housing will help build the homes the country needs, help people into jobs and help the country through the recession. Today’s funding comes on top of cash announced in July to get building work on hundreds of stalled housing developments back on track.

Eighty per cent of the new council homes announced today will be built to standards well above that required by building regulations, helping to cut co2 emissions and reduce energy bills for the families that live in them.

All bids were subject to tough testing. They had to represent value for money, help meet specific local housing needs and be able to begin construction before March 2010. Crucially, only bids for the construction of new council homes for rent were eligible.

In total 51 councils submitted bids. Bids from four councils were considered not to represent value for money and the Minister has asked the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) to work with these councils to strengthen their bids for consideration later this month or for resubmitting in round two.

Today’s funding is on top of action Mr Healey has already announced to dismantle the current council housing finance system and to give councils more leeway to manage waiting lists. Together these will allow councils more freedom to better meet housing needs in their communities.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said:

"Today’s announcement means energy-efficient, affordable homes for thousands of families and jobs in every part of the country for construction workers. This is a key part of the Government’s plan to continue to invest through the downturn to boost our economy and to Build Britain’s Future. We now need councils to move fast and make the best possible use of this investment, so that together we can meet local housing needs and support the house building industry."

John Healey said:

“I am giving the green light for councils to start building over two thousand new council homes, backed by £127million Government cash. It means that, despite the tough economic climate, the biggest council house building programme for almost two decades will begin by the end of the year.

“We have committed to use the power of Government investment to help Britain through the recession. This boost for affordable housing will help build the homes we need and it’s also a shot in the arm for the construction industry, creating over five thousand jobs. And built to some of the toughest ever standards this is good for the environment and means lower fuel bills for the families who live in them.

“This cash injection, along with plans I have already announced to give councils greater control of their housing finances and more leeway in how they run their waiting lists, means councils are better placed than for decades to meet the housing needs of their communities.”

David Lunts, Regional Director of the Homes and Communities Agency in London said:

“We have seen a strong appetite from local authorities within London for this new build programme, which was reflected in the high-quality submissions received. This demonstrates that London boroughs are equipped and ready to take the lead in delivering affordable, rented accommodation for those who are most in need.”

In a response to the announcement David Bexon, Managing Director of SmartNewHomes.com said:

“I fully support the Government’s investment in the production of new council homes. There was a serious shortfall in the supply of affordable housing even before the credit crunch took hold, and the damage to the construction industry has set this back even further. 

“However, I reject any suggestions that there is too much emphasis on new house building. Developers have had precious little support to continue the building required to meet Government’s ambitious housing targets, and there are simply not enough homes available to cater for the growing population.

“There is a huge level of pent-up demand in many areas of the country, so it would be insufficient to simply renovate existing stock as has been suggested by the Conservatives. Supporting the production of new, energy-efficient homes is an essential, progressive move by the Government that will go some way to meeting the nation’s housing needs, while supporting the construction industry with much-needed new employment.”

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