But results find local authorities are slow to buy into modern methods of construction
The average local authority in England would like to build 18 times more homes for social rent than they actually expect to produce.
According to research from public sector procurement specialist Scape Group councils would ideally be building around 1,800 homes for social rent every year but expect to deliver just 1,000 over the next decade.
Scape polled 50 senior managers and decision-makers within local authorities in England and found that 65% were “very concerned” about the provision of social rented housing in their area. In southern England, including London, this rose to 75%.
The procurement specialist flagged modern methods of construction as a way to speed up the construction of council housing but said only 22% of councils said MMC was very important.
In the north of England this fell to 15% while 20% said “not very important at all”.
Currently, the bulk of government money goes to housing associations, rather than local authorities, which now occupy a key role as non-government delivery agents for the provision of affordable housing.
In 2017/18, registered providers based in England, representing 89% of the housing association stock, completed just 4,500 homes for social rent both inside and outside the Affordable Homes Programme.
This represents a drop of 6% on 2016/2017 when 4,775 social rented homes were built, which, in turn, represented a decrease of 13% compared to 2015/2016 when 5,464 social rented homes were completed.
Mark Robinson, Scape Group chief executive, said: “Councils have not been allowed to hold the required level of responsibility, or had the funding, to build homes for social rent for years. It has all been down to housing associations who, with the best will in the world, have not been building homes for social rent to the scale the country needs.
“The current model is not working. It seems that the government has finally recognised that local councils need to contribute towards meeting housing targets but it will take years to turn back the clock on decades of undersupply.”