Lift cap on borrowing so councils can build – say Labour PPCs, councillors and AMs

A group of London-based Prospective Parliamentary Candidates, councillors and London Assembly Members have written an open letter (published in the Guardian), calling on party leadership to go further in their policy commitments when it comes to building houses.

Although the letter praises Ed’s pledge that the next Labour government “will build 200,000 homes a year by 2020″, the cohort which include urge leadership to commit to lifting what they deem the “arbitrary cap [placed on councils] on borrowing to build”.

As the letter references, this comes ahead of the publication of the housing policy review, led by Michael Lyons, which is due to be published in full this month.

The group that wrote the letter urge those working on the review, including Lyons, to “recommend lifting the remaining cap on council borrowing for housing” and ask that the Labour leadership include it in the next Labour manifesto.

We’ll let you know if they’re successful. In the meantime find a copy of the letter in full below:
“London’s housing crisis is deepening by the day. Average house prices now stand at £500,000. Private rents are double the national average. Council housing is being depleted as a third of all right-to-buy sales are in London. Yet last year house building in the capital fell to its lowest level in a decade.

Ed Miliband’s pledge that the next Labour government will build 200,000 homes a year by 2020 has been welcomed across the country, and especially in London. But in order to achieve it we need local authorities to be freed up to deliver a new generation of council housing.

Labour councils across London are building new council homes for the first time in decades. But they could do so much more if the arbitrary cap on borrowing to build was lifted. This would allow them to invest in housing – borrowing prudentially, as they can already do for other purposes. Borrowing to build homes pays for itself in the long term via rents. Indeed, no other European Union country counts public borrowing for housing towards national debt.

In 1979 councils were building a third of all the new homes being built annually. When the Thatcher government choked off council house building the private sector never filled the gap that was left. History tells us that the private sector alone cannot deliver the homes we need to solve our housing crisis.

Sir Michael Lyons will shortly publish his independent review of housing policy as part of Labour’s Policy Review. We hope that he will recommend lifting the remaining cap on council borrowing for housing, and we call on the Labour leadership to include a commitment to lift this cap in the next Labour manifesto.

Yours sincerely

London Labour Housing Leads
Tom Copley AM (London Assembly Labour), Nicky Gavron AM (London Assembly Labour, Planning), Cllr James Murray (LB Islington), Cllr Jasbir Anand (LB Ealing), Cllr Damien Egan (LB Lewisham), Cllr Julian Fulbrook (LB Camden), Cllr Phil Glanville (LB Hackney), Cllr Ahmet Oykener (LB Enfield), Cllr Alan Strickland (LB Haringay)

London Labour Parliamentary Candidates
Ruth Cadbury (Brentford & Isleworth), Andrew Dismore AM (Hendon), Lee Godfrey (Kingston & Surbiton), Rupa Huq (Ealing Central & Acton), Sarah Jones (Croydon Central), Cllr Andrew Judge (Wimbledon), Chris Summers (Uxbridge & South Ruislip), Catherine West (Hornsey & Wood Green)”

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