Naomi Heaton, CEO of London Central Portfolio, comments on the Government’s Housing White Paper:
With only 163,940 housing completions in England in 2015-16, the Government is a long way off the target of providing 1m new homes by 2020, promised by David Cameron. Not only do we have a housing crisis to meet right now, there is projected to be an additional 1.8m new households created by the end of this Parliament. Currently, the Government is not even standing still. Sajid Javid’s White Paper today gave no concrete solutions…
Today the Government published their long-anticipated housing white paper, entitled ‘fixing our broken housing market’. Delayed twice, Sajid Javid’s lacklustre announcement, and accompanying 104 page document, was an underwhelming response. Reiterating the grave problems facing the housing market, about which we are all too familiar, there was a distinct absence of any detailed implementation program.
Having lobbied the Government on the inadequate supply of rental property, which became a scapegoat under George Osborne’s tenure, LCP welcomed the sentiment in today’s paper to assist families within the Private Rented Sector as well as those wishing to buy their own homes. At last the Government has woken up to the fact that not everyone aspires to homeownership, with an increasingly mobile workforce and a generational change in lifestyle.
For the first time, the Government announced a relaxing of restrictions in their Affordable Homes Programme to include affordable rental property. They also, once again, propose to consult on longer tenancies on new build rental homes.
However, very little detail was included as to how these policies will be executed or enforced. These announcements simply do not go far enough to tackle the growing lack of PRS supply with a 1.8m shortfall anticipated by 2025, according to RICS. More information on the ban on letting agent’s fees was also absent, which now is to be subject to consultation.
For developers, with an announcement of an increase up to 40% in planning fees, the commercial nature of the industry is once again being overlooked, as is their crucial role in providing affordable housing. This is particularly worrying at a time when anecdotal evidence suggests a rapid slowing of building starts as buyer demand falls for more expensive homes due to the high levels of graduated Stamp Duty and the introduction of the Additional Rate. Whilst further investment into planning departments is welcome, developers also require support if they are to help deliver on Government building objectives.
With only 163,940 housing completions in England in 2015-16, the Government is a long way off the target of providing 1m new homes by 2020, promised by David Cameron. Not only do we have a housing crisis to meet right now, there is projected to be an additional 1.8m new households created by the end of this Parliament. Currently, the Government is not even standing still.
On the whole, the much-hyped Housing White paper appears to do very little to ‘fix our broken housing market’.