This paper summarises research on local authority direct delivery of housing carried out between September 2018 - May 2019. It reports the headline findings from two surveys carried out in that period, as well as findings on the particular issues the research set out to explore through interviews and case studies. Finally it summarises the conclusions and recommendations that emerged from the research. The full report will be published in July 2019 along with a table of local authority activity. All publications relating to this project can be found at www.rtpi.org.uk/lahousing.
What is the purpose of this research?
The pressure to provide housing in England is significant. Local authorities have been playing a part in its delivery through their responsibilities for the planning system. Increasingly, however, local authorities have become concerned that the type of housing brought through planning by developers has not met their full requirements for social, affordable, special needs and family housing. Alongside this, there has been an increase in no-fault evictions leading to more homelessness. Local authorities have also been squeezed financially across all services through a reduction and removal of the Revenue Support Grant and other austerity budget cuts.
As found in our 2017 research on local authority direct delivery of housing (funded by the National Planning Forum and RTPI), local authorities throughout England have started to engage directly across the whole of the housing delivery system. Each council has taken its own approach with a widening range of programmes and initiatives to deliver housing of all tenure types, appropriate to local needs. There are now more local authorities engaged in direct provision of housing than in 2017. This engagement is also leading many to manage all types of housing delivery through single Housing Delivery Teams, Housing Delivery Boards and Housing Delivery Forums.
In both their housing and homelessness reduction strategies, local authorities have identified a growing need for housing for social rent, good quality market rent, and housing for older people. Within the Government's current approach to housing policy and delivery at local level, including the provision of funding through Homes England, it is not easy to reconcile actual housing need with supply through the planning system. Instead, local authorities are taking a more interventionist approach across the spectrum of delivery of housing regardless of who is supplying it. They are also directly providing housing through a variety of means.
Through this continuation research, we sought to capture changes in local authority activity since our 2017 research. We were also interested to explore some issues not fully explored in our previous work. Finally, we wanted to explore further the relationship between housing delivery and planning. We explored these issues through:
- a direct survey of local authorities (an online questionnaire sent to all local authorities in England, with a request to complete);
- a desk survey of local authorities (online research as to publicly available information for all local authorities in England on their activity around housing delivery);
- A series of roundtables in each region (12 in total); and
- Case study interviews with individual local authorities that are reported here (13 in total)
Our background desk research identified a number of key issues to be explored through our roundtables and case studies.