Exeter City Council is launching its new housing strategy in the midst of a wave of new policy and legislation from Central Government that is seeking to fundamentally change the housing landscape. While new opportunities may present themselves as a consequence, and we stand ready to take advantage of those, there is no doubt that many government policy initiatives will present real problems for councils, like Exeter, that retain their own housing stock and see a continuing key role for social housing. The imposed cut in social rents and the so-called ‘high value assets levy’ will significantly damage local authorities’ ability to invest in their existing stock and finance new-build programmes from the Housing Revenue Account, so ways will need to be found to free up resources to improve our stock (by reducing our operating costs for example) and identifying new mechanisms for increasing housing supply.
Like most places, and especially those cities that are growing and achieving economic success, Exeter has a range of housing ‘needs’ that go well beyond the aspiration for owner occupation that lies at the heart of current government policy. Issues of housing vulnerability and insecurity, the challenges faced by low-income households, a significant dependence on private and social rented accommodation, the shortage of affordable housing, are all facts of life and are all things that a housing strategy needs to speak to.
The purpose of this strategy therefore is to set out the challenges we face, the context in which we work, the opportunities that exist, the objectives we have, and how we intend to pursue those objectives within the financial and policy constraints we face over the next four years. I hope you find it interesting reading.
Cllr Rob Hannaford - Portfolio Holder for Housing Revenue Account
You can read the full 2016-2020 Housing Strategy Below.