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Theresa May promises to build a better Britain

Wednesday 03 October 2018

There were a number of highlights from this week's Conservative party conference, and whilst the PMs dance moves were probably the most notable, she also promised to do more to build the homes the UK needs and lift the lending cap on councils.

Creeping onto the stage to ABBA's 'Dancing Queen', Theresa May prepared to set out her political agenda, in what has been deemed one of the most important speeches of her political career.

In her keynote address to the Conservative conference in Birmingham, the Prime Minister said the party had cleaned up the mess left by Labour, putting the dream of home ownership back within peoples reach.

She spoke about scrapping stamp duty for most first-time buyers - claiming 120,000 households have already benefitted - and declared half a million people have been helped onto the housing ladder through schemes like Help to Buy.

And whilst she admitted that these were only short-term solutions, she reaffirmed her pledge to fix the broken housing market by building more homes.

At last year's conference the PM announced an additional £2 billion for affordable housing on top of the £9 billion Affordable Housing Programme on offer to councils, to get them building again.

In her keynote speech to the Conference this year, Mrs May said the Government will now lift the cap on how much money councils can borrow to build new homes.

The Prime Minister acknowledged that councils had made a big contribution to housing “the last time Britain was building enough homes” but that the borrowing cap was now “holding many of them back”.

“Solving the housing crisis is the biggest domestic policy challenge of our generation,” May said. “It doesn’t make sense to stop councils from playing their part in solving it. So today I can announce that we are scrapping that cap.”

The Chartered Institute of Housing welcomed the removal of the cap but said councils should focus on categories of housing where the private sector was not meeting needs. “We need to make sure we are building the right homes, in the right places, at the right prices. That’s why it is so important to give councils the tools they need to build more truly affordable homes for social rent,” said Gavin Smart, director of policy and external affairs.

Ruth Davison, Executive Director at the National Housing Federation, said: “This is a very welcome decision by the Government. For years, everyone who builds affordable homes – both councils and housing associations – have argued this cap on council borrowing puts the brakes on building more homes.”