It seems that Balls’ promise not to borrow includes not excluding local authority housing borrowing from the national debt. This is the common OECD practice; the UK is the only country in the OECD that includes public sector housing borrowing as national debt. (Housing debt is paid for by housing rent, not taxation and thus can/should be excluded.) The Redbrick blog comments here.
Alice Perry, one of the London National Policy Forum representatives, reported that Labour’s National Policy Forum has agreed to write the debt out of the National Debt, which would allow local authorities to borrow to build. (I reported on the NPF here.) This is important for those local authorities where the constraint is money, not land. The NPF policy statement says,
We will reform the Housing Revenue Account system to better enable councils to build new homes to their maximum potential, and to improve existing homes.
Yet again one needs to read the tea leaves to understand what this means? However Alice, although only Alice thought the commitment had been made. It’s now clear what Labour’s Treasury team think. For the record I disagree, and I am pretty certain I am not alone. I also don’t think that Labour’s policy should be made up by the front bench, even if the Leader has an individual mandate, the rest of the Shadow Cabinet do not!
I read the blog on the 24th, wrote the article in October and backdated it to the day of publication.
The quote is on page 58. If anyone can find a more certain statement, can you mail me, or track back.