John Mann calls on the Government to make it easier for councils to borrow money to build new housing

The Government is parading around its new housing policy, writes John Mann, MP for Bassetlaw.

Some bits I cannot disagree with, about tenant’s rights for example.

John Mann MP

John Mann MP

But there is one glaring omission – the building of council houses.

For decades, local councils have not been able to borrow the money to build new housing.

Here in Bassetlaw, it took real ingenuity by Bassetlaw Council to build the first real new housing in Harworth and it is extremely good.

What is desperately needed is for councils to once again have the power to borrow to build vastly more houses like this.

Bassetlaw council could build 1,000 new houses to rent if it had the ability to borrow, but, like every other council in the country, it is being stopped by the Government.

If houses and bungalows were built for rent in Bassetlaw, they would be snapped up immediately.

There are many pensioners and disabled people desperate for a bungalow and many young couples desperate for a first decent home.

There could also be some real innovation, including supported housing to get the homeless off the streets and to get elderly patients out of hospital and all done without risking a penny of taxpayers’ money.

It beggars belief that the Government has not allowed councils the freedom to borrow and this means that housing such as that in Harworth is incredibly rare.

I hear the Minister responsible, James Brokenshaw MP, is in Bassetlaw on Monday but I haven’t yet been told where or when and those involved haven’t had the decency to invite me.

But whoever is meeting Mr Brokenshaw needs to demand an answer as to why Bassetlaw council is being refused the opportunity to repeat its success in Harworth in every other part of this area.

And if anyone thinks that the council is not up to this, then take a visit to Smith Square in Harworth and see the new housing for yourselves or stroll down to Bracebridge where a decade ago the council was uninterested in gas being provided to residents, but this year has made it happen.