Theresa May’s flagship policy for sparking a revival in council housebuilding will not deliver a single new home in more than half of the local authorities in England, The Independent can reveal. Some of the most deprived towns and cities with the greatest need for new homes, including Liverpool, Bolton and Wakefield, are among areas that will miss out as a result of changes that will only benefit some councils. The prime minister used her speech to the Conservatives’ annual conference last month to announce a major change that will see the government scrap restrictions on how much councils can borrow to fund housing.
She said: “Solving the housing crisis is the biggest domestic policy challenge of our generation. It doesn’t make sense to stop councils from playing their part in solving it.”
No 10 said the move would allow councils to build up to 10,000 new homes a year for low-income families, as councils scale up borrowing by £4.6bn.
However, ministers have admitted that less than half of councils have the type of account that will allow them to increase their borrowing.
Only 160 of the 326 councils in England with responsibility for housing have housing revenue accounts (HRAs), the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said.
The revelation will prompt fears that people in areas with a desperate need for new homes will lose out, while those in neighbouring areas could benefit from a boom in housebuilding.
Councils set to miss out on the potential funding boost include several with some of the longest housing waiting lists in the country.
Authorities that will be unable to borrow more include Bolton, where 25,600 households are on the council waiting list – the third highest in England – and Wakefield, the sixth highest with 20,600 families waiting for a home.
Liverpool, which has the 11th longest waiting list, totalling 16,500 households, will also miss out. Read more
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