May 18, 2017 / 12:38 PM / in 2 months

UK PM May pledges to build more social housing

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LONDON, May 18 (Reuters) - Prime Minister Theresa May pledged to provide funding to local councils in Britain to build more homes, in a move which could significantly boost the amount of government-backed social housing for the first time in decades.

In the 1980s, former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher allowed council tenants to buy their homes at rock-bottom prices and heavily restricted more council building, depleting the stock of cheaply available homes.

Years of underbuilding have left many tenants spending up to half of their salary on rent and making properties in the south east and London unaffordable to younger buyers, pushing the growing housing crisis to the top of the political agenda.

On Thursday the Conservatives acknowledged the need for councils to do more to boost available stock.

"We will help councils to build, but only those councils who will build high-quality, sustainable and integrated communities," the Conservatives said in their policy document.

"We will work with them to improve their capability and capacity to develop more good homes, as well as providing them with significant low-cost capital funding."

The Conservatives said the homes will be sold after ten to fifteen years with an automatic right to buy for tenants.

Overall the party promised to build 1.5 million homes by the end of 2022, crack down on rising ground rents and increase security for good tenants by encouraging landlords to offer longer tenancies as standard. (Reporting by Costas Pitas; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)

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