Liverpool moves to regain control of housing delivery
The city council is creating a strategic board to lead on the delivery of council housing and other stock, significantly scaling back the role of arms length management organisation Liverpool Foundation Homes.
The Strategic Housing Delivery Team would be headed up by Liverpool Foundation Homes’ chief executive Mark Kitts and development director Louise Davies, who, together with representatives from Liverpool City Council, will be responsible for the delivery of council-owned housing and the sourcing of other viable portfolio sites.
It will work to accelerate delivery of new-build homes across a mix of tenures, including social and affordable rent, rent-to-buy and shared ownership. The board will also oversee the council’s plans to retrofit 4,000 homes in its drive to make Liverpool carbon neutral by 2030.
Liverpool Foundation Homes was set up in order to deliver housing on behalf of the council at a time when in-house delivery would have seen the authority penalised and laden with debt.
However, since then, Government policy has changed and the cap on the national Housing Revenue Account – intended to record expenditure and income on council housing stock – has been lifted, freeing up local authorities to borrow money to bring forward housing without incurring penalties.
As a result of the change in policy, Liverpool City Council is setting up an in-house delivery team that it claims would make it quicker and easier to reach its target of building 30,000 new homes by 2030 than if it continued to use LFH.
The return to in-house delivery would see the construction of the first new-build council houses in the city for more than 30 years, since Liverpool sold off its last remaining housing stock to housing associations in the early 2000s.
Under the proposals, which are awaiting council sign-off, Frank Hont will remain as chairman of LFH once the housing board is established. LFH would become a “stock holding company” and continue to operate and manage existing council housing, according to Liverpool City Council.
Residents living in properties operated by LFH, which oversaw the delivery of affordable homes on Park Street in Dingle among other schemes, would be unaffected by the change in delivery structure, the council added.
Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “The city has a diverse population with differing housing needs so it is important that we do what we can to help people in every situation to get the home they deserve. We need to rebalance the city’s housing market.
Hont added: “It is completely understandable why the council, like many across the country, has taken the decision to change the operational focus of housing delivery, as a bi-product of changing Government policy.”