Warrington Council to lend housing association £90m

WARRINGTON Borough Council is to lend £90m to a housing association to fund 1,400 social and affordable homes over the next five years.

It wants to fund St Helens-based Helena Partnerships which was set up in 2002 to take over the housing stock of St Helens Council.

The agreement follows a £30m loan to Chester-based Muir Group Housing last year and £10m each to Arena Housing Association and Warrington Housing Association in 2010.

The latest loan was agreed behind closed doors at an executive meeting earlier this month and the terms have not been disclosed. In 2010 the council borrowed the money from the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) and charged 1.25% on top. The latest round of lending will also come from the PWLB.

In a statement council leader Terry O’Neill said: “This loan will help drive regeneration. It will stimulate house building and create jobs. It will bring much-needed affordable properties within reach of hundreds of families. It will help close the gap by bringing regeneration to some of our most deprived areas. And as a related benefit it will bring in much-needed income, which will help us to protect essential council services.

“Warrington Borough Council has been one of the first local authorities to do this, but other councils are gradually starting to do the same. This is good news because there’s currently a shortage of long-term finance due to the banking crisis, and as a result the UK is building about 100,000 new homes a year fewer than we actually need.

“It’s also good news for the local and regional economy in general, because every £1 spent on house building leads to £4 being spent in the wider economy.”

Rob Young, chief executive of Helena Partnerships said: “The geographical links between St Helens and Warrington provide a real opportunity to positively influence the regional economy. It’s also great news for our customers and our partners, and helps us map out the next phase of the company’s growth with greater certainty.”