UK housing crisis: Local authorities want to boost housebuilding

Lauren Fedor
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Selling off government land could aid the building of more homes, the LGA argues (Source: Getty)
The local Government Association (LGA) is urging chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne to raise the government’s targets for selling public land ahead of next month’s comprehensive spending review.
In a formal submission sent this week, the LGA said the government should lift its target revenues from selling off public land for housing development from £5bn to £13bn over the next five years.
It also said the government should give local authorities more control over the land sale and redevelopment projects.
The LGA wants the government to give 10 per cent of the revenues from public land sales back to local authorities, saying councils would reinvest the money in the development of 180,000 homes.
In its submission, the organisation suggested that the rest of the revenues could be used to fund the government’s extension of the “Right to Buy” scheme.
Citing analysis by Savills, the LGA said almost 100,000 households are expected to participate in the Right to Buy scheme over the next four years, with the discount provided by the government to home-buyers costing the taxpayer £6bn.
The LGA report comes less than two weeks after Meg Hillier, the MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch who chairs the influential Public Accounts Committee, said that the government’s “entire approach” to selling off public land has been “wishful thinking dressed up as public policy”.
Hillier accused ministers of demonstrating “alarming complacency over the future of an irreplaceable public asset” and urged the government to track and publish the number of homes built on disposed land.
“The government has no record of how many homes have been built or are under construction. It has no record of sale proceeds, nor their value in relation to prevailing market prices,” Hillier said.
She also claimed that there is no way of knowing whether taxpayers are getting a “good deal from the sale of their land.”

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