Mayor welcomes freedom to increase borrowing for house building – which ‘could deliver thousands more homes in Hackney’

Mayor of Hackney Phil Glanville on the roof of one of the social housing blocks at the new developme

Mayor of Hackney Phil Glanville on the roof of one of the social housing blocks at the new development on the Colville Estate in Hoxton. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

Hackney mayor Phil Glanville has welcomed Theresa May’s decision to lift the borrowing cap that’s been stopping councils building homes – but says the devil will be in the detail.

Mr Glanville, the borough’s former housing chief, has long been campaigning for the cap to be lifted and has lobbied and marched on the issue.

Currently the amount Hackney can borrow through its housing revenue account is an “arbitrary” £160million. Even if bosses can prove new homes would bring in more than that when sold, they can’t have a penny more.

But speaking following the Prime Minister’s announcement at the Tory party conference on Wednesday, Mr Glanville said: “Finally, the Prime Minster recognised what Labour councils like Hackney have been saying for years.

“It makes no sense to put an arbitrary cap on the amount we can borrow to build the genuinely affordable high quality council housing we so desperately need.

“I like many have marched, campaigned and lobbied for this moment, but the devil will be in the detail and there isn’t much in the follow up statement from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

“I look forward to seeing more in the Budget, ensuring that this commitment to financial freedom is not watered down in practice like so many previous statements and policies.”

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Mr Glanville has previously said if the government lifted the cap the council could build another 2,000 homes, saving £100m on temporary accommodation costs and helping to reduce the 13,000-strong housing waiting list.

He added: “At this stage there is only words and no new money on the table. Hackney’s Labour Council is already building, but if we get this freedom we could do so much more. However, this must only be the start of a real change in our country’s response to the housing crisis.

“We now need to match this new potential borrowing with proper grant funding and investment into council and social rented homes; real reform of right-to-buy, better regulation of the private rented sector and an end to welfare reform which is driving so much of the homelessness in the first place.”