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Give councils freedom to build homes

Today, London First has co-signed a letter from Sir Steve Bullock, Executive Member for Housing at London Councils and others, calling on the Government to remove the cap on local authority housing debt and give councils more freedom to borrow against their assets to build the homes that London desperately needs.

It was published by the Financial Times

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Sir, On Tuesday, peers will discuss removing the cap on local authority  housing debt. As a coalition of councils, housing associations, developers,  professional bodies and academics, we are urging the government to remove this  artificial limit on council borrowing, which is restricting councils from  borrowing against their assets. Research has shown that such increased freedom  could deliver 60,000 new affordable homes.

Investing in housing not only helps tackle the housing crisis, which requires  us to double the number of national homes and build 249,000 homes in London  alone by 2020, but also stimulates economic growth and creates jobs. Building  60,000 homes would add 0.6 per cent to gross domestic product and create 19,200  jobs. For every £1 invested by the public sector in construction, 56p returns to  the exchequer.

In partnership with businesses and housing associations, councils can link  the construction work with local apprenticeship and worklessness prevention  schemes, helping get people back into work and reducing benefit dependency while  cutting the costs of homelessness.

Removing this cap is a prudent and sensible move to help kick-start the  economy, bring local and national construction growth and address the UK’s  housing crisis.

Steve Bullock, Executive Member for Housing, London Councils; Liz  Peace, Chief Executive, British Property Federation; Grainia Long, Chief  Executive, Chartered Institute of Housing; John Slaughter, Director of External  Affairs, Home Builders Federation; Cllr Mike Jones, Chair of Environment and  Housing Board, Local Government Association; John Dickie, Director of Strategy  and Policy, London First; Brian Berry, Chief Executive and Construction4Growth  Campaign Spokesperson, Federation of Master Builders; John Dickie, Director of  Strategy and Policy, London First; Brian Berry, Chief Executive and  Construction4Growth Campaign Spokesperson, Federation of Master Builders; David  Orr, Chief Executive, National Housing Federation; Dr Jane Roberts, Chair, New  Local Government Network; Trudi Elliott, Chief Executive, Royal Town Planning  Institute; Campbell Robb, Chief Executive, Shelter; Cllr Paul Ellis, Chair, The  Association Of Retained Council Housing; and Sue Roberts, Chair, National  Federation of ALMOs

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