Copied from Local Government Chronicle online
Give us powers to boost house-building skills – Porter30 June, 2015 | By Charlotte Santry
The government faces missing its pledge on affordable homes unless it devolves more powers to local authorities, the Local Government Association chairman is set to warn.
Gary Porter (Con) is today set to use his first keynote address in his new role to urge the government to transfer more funding and responsibilities for employment and skills services to local areas.
The government’s pledge to build 275,000 affordable homes by 2020 is at risk of falling foul of a growing skills shortage in the construction industry that is holding back housebuilding, he will say.
The LGA believes greater devolved powers would allow councils, schools, employers and colleges to work together to create more construction apprenticeships and ensure communities have the skills needed to build badly needed homes.
Cllr Porter will say: “The government has expressed a clear ambition to build more affordable homes and help more people own their own home. Local government has a central role to play to make this happen.”
For too long there has been a “mismatch of centrally set training and skills needed locally”, he will state, adding: “We’ve trained too many hairdressers and not enough bricklayers.”
Cllr Porter will also call for councils’ borrowing limits to be lifted, to allow for greater investment in housing.
In addition, he wants local authorities to have the freedom to set right-to-buy discounts and retain 100% of receipts locally without complex rules, to help them to quickly replace housing sold through the scheme.
Bringing health and social care together has shown that bringing local public services together provides better value services, he will say, pointing to the better care fund.
The proposals form part of an LGA report called A Shared Commitment: Local Government and the Spending Review launched today.