ARCH Chair Councillor, Kim Caddy and ARCH Chief Executive John
Bibby, together with NFA Chair Hugh Broadbent and NFA Managing
Director Eamon McGoldrick met the Housing Minister, Kit Malthouse
to make the case for council housing.
The meeting took place in the House of Commons on 27 November
2018. ARCH had called for the meeting following Mr. Malthouse
appointment as Housing Minister on 9 July 2018 and many of the matters on which we had been pressing the
government to act, including the scrapping of the High
Value Asset Levy and the lifting of HRA borrowing cap, had been
delivered in the interim.
We were therefore able to thank the Minister for providing
greater certainty to local authorities in developing their HRA
Business Plans and planning investment in council housing and were
told to expect the government's response to the recent consultation
on use of Right to Buy receipts "soon" and a response to the Social
Housing Green Paper in "Spring" of next year.
We pressed the case for even greater certainty and suggested to
the Minister that as the lifting of the HRA debt cap was simply a
permission to borrow against future rental income, longer term
certainty over rent policy would aid investment in new housing and
a longer 10-year social rent policy would be preferable to the
existing 5-year policy.
The lifting of the HRA debt cap will undoubtedly place an
expectation on councils that they will deliver significantly
greater numbers of new council housing over the next few years and
we raised concerns about the need for government to recognise and
support the need for increased skills and capacity in the sector
and to work with the sector to build that capacity.
We also raised with the Minister the proposals in the Social
Housing Green Paper for production of a suite of performance
indicators and "league tables" referring the Minister to our response to the Green Paper and our
concerns about the effectiveness of league tables and our
willingness to work with the MHCLG and the Regulator to draft a set
of workable performance indicators that would help tenants hold
landlords to account.
We also raised the opportunity to tackle some of the stigma
attached to social housing and to celebrate the centenary in 2019 of the passing of the 1919
Housing & Town Planning Act, (commonly known as the
"Addison Act"), which enabled local authorities for the first time
to develop council housing at scale to provide "Homes fit or
heroes" after the ending of WW1. The Minister expressed some
enthusiasm for the idea and agreed that his officials would follow
this up with further discussions.
The Minister recognised the work undertaken by ARCH and the NFA
and agreed to keep in regular contact through his officials.