Local government is facing ‘looming crisis in confidence’
Councils have been warned they are facing a ‘looming crisis in confidence’ in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire by communities secretary Sajid Javid.
Speaking at the LGA’s annual conference, Mr Javid said that while the ‘ties that bind local government to local communities have not snapped’, the sector must work hard to rebuild public trust.
He told delegates: ‘If people are going to trust their elected representatives, they have to see them working in the harsh light of the public eye, not in comforting shadows behind closed doors.
‘Not only must democracy exist; it must be seen to exist.
Mr Javid said that tackling inequalities in housing would be one way to rebuild this trust, criticising those councils that have yet to publish a Local Plan.
He added: ‘Others produced a plan when the policy was first introduced, but haven’t touched it since and are left with a dusty document that’s hopelessly out-of-date and irrelevant to the real needs of their communities.
‘And then there are those councils that have an up-to-date plan, but have failed to be honest about the level of housing they need in their area.
He used the event to launch a consultation on a new way for councils to assess their local housing requirements. Under the proposals, councils will need to review their Local Plans every five years.
Acknowledging the need for funding to deliver new homes, he also announced a new £2.3bn fund to help unlock 100,000 homes.
Councils will be able to bid for new funding through the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) to deliver absent infrastructure projects that could be holding back developments.
Mr Javid, said: ‘To build the homes this country needs, we need to deliver the right infrastructure in the right place at the right time.
‘By investing in local infrastructure, we can help unlock building thousands of new homes in the areas where they are needed most.
Mr Javid also avoided calls to confirm the Government would send in commissioners to Kensignton and Chelsea council. 'We do know the whole recovery effort will be transferred back to the council, but we must ensure they have the resources and expertise in place,' he did say.