Keith House: New Housing Finance Institute can help councils build homes

This piece from the Liberal Democrat website on a topic very much flavour of the month in Lib Dem policy debates is worth a wider airing too. It’s by Keith House, leader of Eastleigh Council.

Keith House (left) and Natalie Elphicke with representatives from Keepmoat and Barratt at new homes in Newcastle, July 2014

Britain needs to build more than 200,000 new homes each year. We’ve all said it so many times before. Yet we are falling short of this target.

That’s why the Housing Finance Institute (HFI) is being launched. To help to get the money to build the homes we need. The aims of the HFI are to increase housing supply across all tenures; to unlock opportunities for the public sector and to help business to deliver and finance housing.

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The HFI was a key recommendation of the Government-commissioned Elphicke-House Report 2015. Over the course of a year-long review, Natalie Elphicke and I listened to more than 400 organisations from across the nation. The organisations came from all parts of the housing and finance industries as well as local and national government. They made the case for a new approach that would bring everyone together. The idea for the HFI was born and made a key recommendation of our report. Councils can do more, working with housing associations and developers, with private and public finance. My own Council, Eastleigh, is building homes for affordable and private rent, and homes for sale.

The implementation of the HFI was announced in the March 2015 Budget. How then will the HFI make a difference?

First, because the HFI will bring all housing market players together to share the best ideas, not try to tell people what to do. The priority for the HFI is to help increase the speed and number of new homes financed across all tenures. We will support new and smaller businesses as well as established players who want to do more. We will bring the public and private sectors together with the money needed to make things happen. We will seek to build skills, capacity and relationships – particularly between businesses and local authorities that want to do more and become housing delivery enablers.

The HFI will also seek to share new ideas and best practice – promoting new business and finance models as well as innovative techniques and methods for building more homes. It’s also critical to identify and promote new development opportunities – while bringing local government, central government and businesses together to make it happen.

Most importantly, the HFI is not an exclusive club. Anyone can get involved. We particularly welcome public sector organisations which want to be housing delivery enablers, smaller private sector businesses seeking to grow and bigger players who want to do more. The HFI is not for profit and self-funding through its membership and business engagement work.

So do get in touch – keith.house@eastleigh.gov.uk – and get involved if you, your council or business want to help bring forward the new homes Britain needs. Together, we can build the future.

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