The Chartered Institute of Housing say the Chancellor should use next month’s Autumn statement to explore new ways of boosting standards in the private rented sector, help councils build more homes and give more support to people affected by welfare reform.
The CIH submission to the Government also calls for new guidance to ensure housing’s potential contribution to economic growth is properly exploited by Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs).
George Osborne is due to announce the Autumn statement on 5 December.
CIH’s four-point submission calls for the government to:
Look at new ways of improving standards in the private rented sector by targeting tax allowances. Private landlords currently benefit from around £7bn of tax allowances per year for deductible expenses such as repairs and maintenance, insurance and professional fees. If landlords who committed to a higher level of standards benefited from an enhanced allowance, while those who did not saw their allowances stay the same or even reduce, quality should begin to rise.
Allow councils to borrow more so they can build new homes. Increasing local authority borrowing caps by £7bn would allow them to build 75,000 new homes over five years, creating 23,500 jobs and creating £5.6bn of economic activity.
Increase its Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) funding – the money councils are able to give out to mitigate the worst impacts of welfare reform. Committing £250m to DHP funding in 2014/15 and 2015/16 would help support people who have so far been unable to change their circumstances and support the roll out of Universal Credit.
Encourage LEPs to plan for housing growth. Formal guidance would maximise the role that both LEPs and housing can play in driving local growth.
CIH chief executive Grainia Long said: “The Autumn Statement offers the Chancellor the opportunity to address our long-term failure to build the new homes we need and to raise standards in the private rented sector. We are in the grip of a housing crisis, with millions of people being denied access to a decent home at a price they can afford. In the Autumn Statement the Chancellor can take concrete steps to address that crisis and at the same time harness housing’s potential to boost our economic recovery.
“Local authorities would be able to contribute much more to meeting our national supply challenge if government would only give them the tools. Local Economic Partnerships will be critical in driving forward growth at local level and should look to ensure their plans fully capture the economic leverage offered by housing.”
She added: “This government has focused on home ownership, but with more and more people living in the private rented sector – including more older people and more families with children – it’s vital that we look carefully at new ways to raise standards.
“Increasing funding for Discretionary Housing Payments would help support the people who have been affected most severely by welfare reform and support the transition to universal credit.”