Jonathan Werran 22 November 2013

Give LEPs greater housing role, CIH urges Exchequer

Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) should be instructed to maximise the role housing can play in  boosting local economic growth, a lead housing organisation has advised.

In its Autumn Statement submission to the Treasury, the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) argues LEPs need to have a better understanding of how business decisions affect housing markets.

But because the £400m top slice of New Homes Bonus cash LEPs will enjoy from 2015 is ‘a very small sum of money’ compared with other big funding pots, such as European Development and Social Funds, there is a risk other priorities might overshadow housing.

The briefing also stated there could be opportunities to strengthen the engagement of LEPs by giving councils the freedom to borrow above the current £2.8bn borrowing cap or pool borrowing as part of City Deals designed to increase housing supply.

The CIH submission restates evidence showing local authorities have an appetite for an additional £7bn debt, which could be used to build 75,000 new homes over five years, help create 23,500 jobs and add £5.6bn to the economy.

‘In the Autumn Statement the chancellor can take concrete steps to address the crisis and at the same time harness housing’s potential to boost our economic recovery,’ said Grainia Long, CIH chief executive.

‘Local authorities would be able to contribute much more to meeting our national supply challenge if government would only give them the tools,’ she said.

‘Local economic partnerships will be critical in driving forward at local level and should look to ensure their plans fully capture the economic leverage offered by housing.’

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