Delivering the renaissance in council-built homes: the rise of local housing companies

This report attempts to capture the rapid rise in local housing companies (LHCs), which has occurred among councils of all types throughout England.

Local housing companies (LHCs) are independent arms-length commercial organisations wholly or partly owned by councils. They can develop, buy and manage properties within and outside of a local authority area. The homes LHCs provide sit outside of the local government housing financing system (Housing Revenue Account) and are not subject to the Housing Act and most of the social/affordable housing regulations.

Over the past few years the number of companies has increased among councils across the whole of England. This study of LHCs shows that the vast majority are engaged in the provision of affordable housing, as well as market housing for rent and sale.

Although the number of LHCs has risen dramatically, there have been few studies on their evolution or impact on meeting local housing needs. There is no official register or database of LHCs and few case studies. This report is an attempt to fill that information gap and better understand the extent to which LHCs are developing as alternative providers of affordable homes.

The research, including an on-line poll of councils, roundtable meetings and interviews with practitioners and experts, has attempted to document the emergence of LHCs, in all their shapes and forms.

Author: Paul Hackett, The Smith Institute

Publication date: October 2017