Councils need flexible funding for house-building, says ICE

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  • 07/09/2017
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Councils need flexible funding for house-building, says ICE
Local Authorities must have access to flexible funding arrangements to tackle the housing shortage, if the Northern Powerhouse is to be a success - the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) has warned.

In its report ‘Delivering a Northern Infrastructure Strategy’ the body sets out its recommendations to drive economic growth and improve quality of life in the North, as part of the wider Northern Powerhouse initiative.

Along with encouraging central government to devolve revenue raising and borrowing powers and calling for the creation of a Northern Spatial Plan to “guide and coordinate integrated infrastructure development” ICE says local authorities should “put in place standard approaches to assessing need and have access to flexible funding arrangements for new developments”.

The report states: “Local authorities have caps limiting their borrowing for housing developments. These are based on the debt the council already has, which varies significantly across the country. It does not bear any relation to the number of houses they have or the demand for new housing. Therefore, despite the prudential borrowing rules in place on councils and historically low interest rates, few local authorities can finance new house building.

“Allowing local authorities flexibility will enable investment to provide high-quality housing, suitable for their location. In turn, this will help to retain and attracted skilled workers, therefore making a significant contribution to attracting inward investment and in stimulating regeneration.”

 

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