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Tue, 26 May 2020

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By National Audit Office
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Councils set for home building revolution as Theresa May announces end to borrowing cap

Councils set for home building revolution as Theresa May announces end to borrowing cap

Emilio Casalicchio

3 min read

Britain is set for a new homes boost after Theresa May revealed councils will be free to borrow unlimited sums to build new social properties.


In a bid to tackle the crippling housing crisis, the cap on local authority borrowing for new housebuilding will be lifted, the Prime Minister announced in her keynote Conservative conference speech.

Mrs May – who has made it her personal mission to boost the number of homes – said increasing stock was “the biggest domestic policy challenge of our generation”.

In her hour-long address to delegates in Birmingham, she also announced a new cancer strategy to increase diagnoses and boost the life chances of sufferers.

A lack of affordable homes has priced ownership out of reach of huge swathes of the population in recent years - leaving more people grappling with the rental market.

Councils have been limited in the amount they can borrow against their Housing Revenue Accounts – with the cap raised to £1bn in high affordability areas last year.

But in a major victory for housing campaigners today, the Prime Minister announced that the Government would be “scrapping that cap”.

“Solving the housing crisis is the biggest domestic policy challenge of our generation,” she said.

“It doesn’t make sense to stop councils from playing their part in solving it.”

She vowed to the British people: “We will help you get on the housing ladder and we will build the homes this country needs.”

Housing charity Shelter said the announcement "lays down the gauntlet to local authorities to bring forward home-building plans – no more excuses".

CEO Polly Neate explained that the change could see almost 30,000 new social homes each year - a massive change after just 5,000 were built last year.

'PRECIOUS EXTRA YEARS'

Elsewhere, Mrs May said a new cancer strategy would be funded as part of the £20bn NHS boost announced in time for the 70th birthday of the health service.

She said the plan would lower screening ages, invest in better equipment and build more rapid diagnosis centres in a bid to increase the detection rate from one-in-two today to three-in-four by 2028.

“Half of us will be diagnosed with cancer. All of us know someone who has been,” she poignantly explained to the hall.

“Every life saved means precious extra years with friends and family. Every life saved means a parent, a partner, a child, a god mother spared the pain of losing a loved one before their time.”

In the third major policy announcement of her speech, the Prime Minister said the Conservatives would freeze fuel duty for the ninth year in a row.

She also suggested the upcoming government spending review would see a significant boost to public services.

And she said that a decade after the financial crash of 2008, “people need to know that the austerity it led to is over and that their hard work has paid off”.

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