Council housing finance in biggest change for generation

Preparations for the reform having been a decade in the making and the Chartered Institute of Housing has participated from the start – organising initial round table events with the Government to discuss the original paper on the future for council housing finance (the so called Blue Skies Paper – "The Way Forward for Housing Capital Finance", August 2002).

CIH also took part in two pilot projects in 2004 and 2006, leading the organisation of the national review of council housing finance – which reported its findings in 2009 – and playing a pivotal role in influencing the main political parties, in government and opposition, to get behind the momentum for change.

Since the general election, CIH has been instrumental in ensuring the reform is implemented and continues to support a wide range of councils in their detailed planning and preparations.

Steve Partridge, director of financial policy and development at CIH and a leading advocate of the reforms, described the changes as "momentous".

He said: "For the first time since before the Second World War, council housing finance will be placed on a local footing. There is no doubt that we have secured a financial settlement that will allow councils to develop more accountable, well balanced and, above all, sustainable plans well into the future, with many able to bring forward immediate increases in investment in their communities.

"But there is still work to do. There have been a number of recent announcements from government which offer challenges, including the reinvigoration of the Right to Buy, which has the potential to weaken the financial position for many authorities, and in the Budget where the Government suggested that it is considering further controls over borrowing."

CIH will continue to work closely with government to ensure that councils are able to meet the challenges effectively and are able to release the capacity inherent in the assets held by council housing authorities.

Partridge said: "We will continue to campaign to change arcane borrowing rules, which do not allow sensible and prudent investment by councils in line with their housing association colleagues. Investment in affordable council-owned housing is good for communities, good for the economy and good for jobs.

"We look forward to continuing to work closely with the council housing world to make the changes successful, to deliver more homes, better homes and better communities for council tenants around the country."

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