Councils’ leader calls for powers to tackle the housing shortage

MINISTERS will today be told they will fail to deliver on promises to build thousands of new unless to give councils greater freedoms over skills.

Housing will be the focus at the opening day of the LGA conference in Harrogate

The chairman of the Local Government Association (LGA) will argue a dramatic fall in the number of people completing construction apprenticeships makes the target of 275,000 new affordable homes by 2020 almost impossible to achieve.

Coun Gary Porter will call for councils to be given control over how money is spent on skills so that it can be used to meet the needs of local businesses.

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He will tell the LGA’s conference in Harrogate: “The Government has expressed a clear ambition to build more affordable homes and help more people own their own home. Local government has a central role to play to make this happen.

“Central to this is lifting housing borrowing limits to allow us to invest in new housing, giving us the freedom to set Right to Buy discounts and retain 100 per cent of the receipts locally.

“For too long there has also been a mismatch of centrally-set training and skills needed locally. We’ve trained too many hairdressers and not enough bricklayers.”

Coun Porter will argue giving local authorities more freedoms in areas such as health and social care is the only way services can will be provided at lower cost as public spending is cut over the next five years.