Finance for housing
An introduction

Three: Local authority general housing services and building work


Housing advice, homelessness services including temporary housing, housing support services, strategic work across the area and the maintenance of housing standards in the private sector are all important, locally provided local authority services. The local authority also can undertake or support a range of building and improvement work associated with these housing services.

Local authorities in England are more reliant on central government for funding than their European counterparts, so the impact of austerity measures is particularly severe. The Labour leader of Birmingham City Council remarked in 2012 that the £600 million that has to be cut from that authority’s budget up to 2017 marked ‘the end of local government as we have known it’. This chapter will explore this view from the perspective of housing services and will discuss:

  • the range of housing services provided through the General Fund and their main sources of revenue funding;

  • funding issues connected to three important services: the homelessness service, the Supporting People programme and the housing benefit service;

  • possible sources of capital funding for new building and improvement work, including funding to achieve the DHS in any retained council housing.

The management of any council housing will be discussed in Chapter Five. The limitations of space are such that this chapter is focused mainly on England.

Central government has exercised considerable influence at local government level in recent times. Practically, this has been to maintain a firm control over public expenditure. Overall, local authority General Fund expenditure (of which general housing services form a part) accounts for 25% of total public expenditure in England and Wales.

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