On 4th July Communities Secretary Sajid Javid called on local authorities to bid for funding from the £2.3 billion investment through the Housing Infrastructure Fund, bringing with it the potential to unlock 100,000 new homes in areas of high demand.
The fund was formally launched at the Local Government Association (LGA) Conference in Birmingham on 4th July, at which Javid spoke, stating that the investment aims to provide vital physical infrastructure projects including building roads, bridges, energy networks and other utilities. The key to unlocking these news homes, according to the Communities Secretary, is to “deliver the right infrastructure in the right place at the right time.” The absence of this infrastructure holds back housebuilding, and the billion pound investment will seek to solve this problem at key locations. Javid has also announced that the government will launch a consultation on a new way for councils to assess their local housing requirements.
However, it’s not just homes on the agenda. The Housing Infrastructure Fund is part of the government’s wider £23 billion National Productivity Investment Fund which focuses on target development areas. This means there will also be funding made available to help build new schools, healthcare centres and digital infrastructure. The implication behind this wider community investment is that supporting the developing of growing communities will alleviate the pressure on public services, resulting in a boost in productivity and thriving economies.
The original announcement of this fund came in Philip Hammond’s 2016 Autumn Statement, and has now opened for bids from local authorities in England to pitch proposals to get new homes off the ground. Once approved, the investment will mean local authorities can immediately begin delivering crucial infrastructure. It is expected that the building of new homes would then quickly follow.
In the driving seat of the delivery of these homes sit local authorities – welcome news for LGA Chairman, Lord Porter: “Councils know their communities, and the places in them, best and so it’s right that approaches to invest in local infrastructure are led by local authorities.”
The £2.3 billion of new development funding will be allocated to local authorities on a competitive basis. The Fund aims to support councils in stepping up their plans for growth, and maximising land for housing and attractive homes. The funding will be available from 2017-18 to 2020-21.
Whilst Javid’s fund sounds good on paper, only time will tell how quickly local authorities will be able to make necessary infrastructure and new homes a reality.