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Report urges closer working relationship between local authorities and housing associations

The report, which has been published by the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH), considers the tensions that exist between housing associations (HAs) and local authorities (LAs), and urges them to jointly develop local housing affordability frameworks to identify the required mix of homes and tenures that are needed to resolve the shortage of affordable housing. The report suggests that HAs and LAs should share the costs of a new “more dynamic” system for managing allocations and lettings and collaborate more closely on tackling homelessness. It should become the government’s central policy objective to build affordable homes for those on low incomes and welfare reform measures should align with housing policy to ensure low-income households can access affordable housing.
A key recommendation of the report is that the existing constraints on LAs relating to land disposal should be amended so that they have more freedom to facilitate housing supply. Many LAs only have limited land holdings, whether held under the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) or the General Fund (GF).
The report suggests that greater freedom to dispose of land could be achieved by:
• Broadening the scope of what constitutes “best consideration” for the purposes of section 123 of the Local Government Act 1972 in relation to the disposal of GF land, where the relevant disposal is to be used to facilitate housing development.
• Widening the applicable general consent regimes for disposals of HRA and GF land, to allow LAs more flexibility to contribute land to development projects.
• Specific consent for GF land should only be required where the disposal is within the highest decile of site values.
The report helpfully establishes the key challenges to the relationship between LAs and HAs and how changes in government policy could improve that relationship.