DCLG ponders council home reforms

The government is looking at improving reforms to enable council house building in the next Queen's speech.

Housing minister Yvette Cooper today told the DCLG select committee that ministers were considering a number of options for finance reforms.

She said that tweaking the housing revenue account (HRA) regime may make it easier for councils to build new homes.

She said: "It may be that we can do this quickly. We are looking at whether we can include legislation in the Queen's speech."

Cooper said councils might be allowed to opt out of the housing revenue accounts and allow council's housing stock to become self-financing.

She said: "Councils could opt out of HRA. They would be able to manage their housing as a long-term asset. I am very attracted to this idea."

But she said that historical allocations meant reforming HRA could be difficult. 

Cooper said: "One council gets a huge amount while others get a smaller amount due to the historical quirks of funding.

"Any reform would result in winners and losers and there is a danger that government might have to step in and bail out the losers."

The Queen will make her speech setting out the government's legislative programme on 6 November.

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