Councils to be required to publish market value of social housing stock, Pickles says

Out-Law News | 27 Nov 2014 | 3:25 pm | 1 min. read

Secretary of state for communities and local government Eric Pickles has announced that councils in England will be required to publish annual valuations of their social housing stock from April, and urged them to sell expensive vacant properties to pay for new affordable homes.

In a statement yesterday, the department for communities and local government said that, in order to ensure that social housing stock was "being put to best use", the government would require councils to publish an annual list of properties by post code, including their market valuation, how many were occupied and how many were vacant.

According to the statement, the government hoped that the requirement would allow members of the public to question local authorities' management of housing stock, including whether selling off valuable properties could release funds to build new social housing.

"Councils across the country are sitting on millions of pounds which could be put to far better use and get them building elsewhere in the area," said Pickles. "This would allow more families to come off social housing waiting lists and get into homes."

"Instead of holding that money as equity in expensive empty properties, the councils should sell up those vacant buildings and reinvest the money to get the country building."

The statement follows a consultation in which local authorities were asked to provide their views on the government's proposals. According to a summary of responses to the consultation (14-page / 383 KB PDF), there was not strong support for the proposed use of post codes and market values in the annual valuations and 42% of respondents "indicated 1 April 2016 as a more realistic [start] date given the technical nature of the proposals".

However, the government said that it intended to press ahead with its plans, having decided that an April 2015 start was preferable due to "the importance of this information to local communities" and that the use of market values and post code identification would better enable local people to understand the information.