EXECUTIVE board members are set to approve a business case to set up two housing companies to 'maximise' income and deliver 500 'high-quality' homes.

The authority is aiming to meet the borough's housing needs, as well as to find 'alternative ways' of creating income following cuts in Government funding.

If approved, the two companies could be formed in May this year, with 154 properties expected to be built and occupied by April 2020.

The first phase of development will initially be on two council-owned sites.

In their report, deputy council leader Cllr Russ Bowden, executive board member for corporate finance, and Cllr Maureen McLaughlin, executive board member for public health and wellbeing, said 'it is to be expected that there are risks with a project this size'.

They added: "However, with good governance and management the risk analysis does not indicate any reason for not proceeding with the project.

"The business case that supports the establishment of council-owned arms-length housing companies is built on the assumption that the housing companies will build or acquire 500 homes.

"In the Autumn Budget 2017, the Government set out its aim to deliver 300,000 homes per year by the mid-2020s by providing investment of £44 billion over the next five years.

"The proposals set out in this report are consistent with the aims of the Budget.

"There is a clear need for more housing in Warrington and this need covers all types and tenure.

"Councils are increasingly using housing as an opportunity to develop an income stream which includes rental income, new homes bonus, increasing council tax receipts and loan margin from lending.

"It is estimated that by 2020 up to half of all councils in England will have a local housing company."