£2 billion housing pot could help deliver thousands of new affordable homes

4 October 2017

Leading councillors have said that a £2 billion pot of money to help build more social houses should be welcomed with open arms – but warned that the devil is in the detail before housing bosses know whether it will help in South Cambridgeshire.

The additional grant funding pot for councils and housing associations was announced today (Wednesday 4 October) by the Prime Minister, but local councils will only know whether their communities could benefit once all the details are published.

Councillors have also said it was a “positive step forward” when Theresa May said today that the Government recognised the need to allow councils to bid for funding for homes they would rent out at social rents.

Social rents are what are charged in South Cambridgeshire to rent a Council house – this is around 20% less than Affordable Rent, the level set for a number of previous Government grant schemes.

Previous Government schemes have needed local councils to already own the land they want to build new homes on, as well as having local money to match any grants from Whitehall – two factors that have meant South Cambridgeshire District Council has not been able to bid.

The Council has been lobbying Government to remove these restrictions for future grant schemes and it hopes the detail published following this announcement will mean there are more opportunities to help local people.

Cllr Lynda Harford, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s cabinet member for Housing, said: “I am pleased the Government has recognised the importance of building more council housing as there is a pressing need in our area. We want to work with the Government to make this happen and help local families, especially the squeezed middle and those on lower incomes to have a chance of good quality homes. The £2 billion investment looks positive but the devil is in the detail and we need to look at this closely once it is published.

“The cap Government has set on our borrowing for housing has limited our ability to bid for previous grants and we will continue to try and get that restriction lifted."