Boroughs need Budget freedoms to help homeless Londoners

  • By Gemma Kappala-R...

London boroughs are calling on the Chancellor to give councils more freedom to use their powers to end London’s housing crisis by building more homes.

Cross-party representative group London Councils is making the case to the Treasury ahead of the Budget for the broader policy changes needed to help homeless people across the capital.

Homelessness in London is driven by a chronic lack of affordable housing. Government estimates that 72,000 new homes need to be built in the capital each year to meet demand.

London boroughs are determined to build the homes that Londoners need, but lack the powers and resources to deliver housing at sufficient scale.

Access to the full income from Right to Buy sales to invest in replacement homes and a more favourable borrowing rate for investment in housing projects would enable boroughs to accelerate the delivery of new affordable housing.

London Councils estimates that current Right to Buy policy has meant that boroughs have lost £400 million of income between 2013 and 2021.

Increasing the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) borrowing rate by 1 per cent has added considerable cost to capital projects such as housing schemes - more than £40 million over 4 years, according to a survey of 13 boroughs.

Cllr Peter John OBE, Chair of London Councils, said:

“With 57,000 households living in temporary accommodation in London, including 88,000 children, there’s no denying that the capital is facing the most severe homelessness crisis in the country.

“If Government is serious about reducing homelessness, the Chancellor will seize the opportunity in his first Budget to give boroughs full receipts from Right to Buy and the ability to borrow to invest in housing at low cost.

“Boosting long-term, strategic investment now will accelerate boroughs’ work to build the thousands of new homes that Londoners need.”

Reform of Right to Buy and housing borrowing rates are two of London Councils’ key asks of Government ahead of the March 11 Budget.

Click here to download London Councils' full Budget Submission.