Lifting of housing borrowing cap could see ‘significant’ increase in social housing

Islington Town Hall. Photograph: Islington Council.

Islington’s housing boss says the recent lifting of borrowing limits on councils could see a “significant” rise in the number of properties the Town Hall can build.

Cllr Diarmaid Ward (Lab, Holloway), executive member for housing & development, was speaking at a 19 November meeting of Islington’s housing scrutiny committee.

According to the Islington representative, the lifting of the cap could radically change the ratio of council homes to private homes built by the Town Hall in the future.

Cllr Ward said: “Rest assured, we will be borrowing under the new programme. I can’t give you a figure, but we’ve done the number crunching into this, and currently as you know we build on our own estates, in old garages, on top of buildings, and in old undercrofts.

“Currently because we have to cross-subsidise, we build about 60-40 council homes to private sale homes.

“We’ve worked out that, now that the borrowing cap has lifted, we could hopefully make that 85-15. So overnight we can flip units so that will make a significant dent in getting a higher number of council homes.”

The amount of money which a council could borrow on the funds in its Housing Revenue Account (HRA) was capped by the coalition government in 2012, with the cap ditched in October of this year, with Savills estate agents suggesting 100,000 council homes could be built as a result.