Housing white paper image

Housing white paper

The recent government white paper entitled ‘Fixing Our Broken Housing Market’ was published to the tune of 104 pages, and it certainly makes for interesting reading. Housing and redevelopment projects are a huge part of what we do at Latch, and we love hearing about plans to build much needed new homes. The main topics of conversation in the report were;

1) Building New Houses
Over the last 30 years, the U.K. has reportedly had the slowest rate of new houses being built each year in Europe. 190,000 new homes were built last year, but this still falls short of the 225,000 – 275,000 new builds required, to meet our growing demand as a nation. As such, the Government pledges in the report to build 1 million extra houses by 2020, and has promised an inflow of extra money to help local authorities and housing associations to build these much in-demand new homes.

Developers will also welcome the commitment of government in this report to speed up the rate of completions of new builds, with the Government vowing to speed up and simplify the application processes, make the planning system more accessible to both small and large development corporations, and make compulsory purchase powers more readily usable.

The government has also made provisions to support housing associations and encourage them to build more houses of their own again, as well as an extra £7 billion for the Affordable Houses Programme to build these 1 million much-needed new homes.

There is also a new way of assessing housing need in the UK. Taking a fresh look at who needs new homes, and which sites are available and practical to build the new homes on. All of this is promised whilst still working actively to protect the precious Green Belt land of the UK, as set out in their original 2015 promise. This means encouraging more building on brownfield sites and converting empty and unused houses, shopping centres and office blocks. This will, of course, involve local communities still being able to participate in conversations around the type and location of these new homes being built in their areas, and working with local land-owners to identify and push forward anyone sitting on land unnecessarily.

2) Renting
Much needed institutional investment is also welcomed for those in the private rented sector, improving safeguards around unfair leases and tenancy agreements, preventing the rate of homelessness from rising, and helping households who are currently priced out of both or either the private rent or ownership markets, by introducing further schemes such as Help To Buy and Affordable Housing.

The Government has further pledged to help make renting more affordable as most renters currently spend up to 35% of their income on rent. They have also pledged to help offer longer tenancies of up to 3 years so that families feel more at home and at ease in their homes.

3) Home Ownership
The average house is now 8 times the average earnings of an individual, and many are struggling to build up a deposit, let alone furnish and improve the house they are buying. The government in this report is committed to reducing this imbalance of earnings vs affordability of houses and is working hard to make sure both the property development industry, and the local communities have a win-win situation and are on board.

The housing report outlines the use of the Affordable Homes Programme that will focus on Rent to Buy Homes and Shared Ownership deals, that will help families and professionals buy their own home by making rents more affordable, and enabling them to save more for a deposit.

We at Latch welcome this new report and to summarise, the Government has pledged to:

1) Help both housing associations and small to large corporations meet demand and build homes faster and that fit the needs of the UK people

2) Make renting more affordable to the community, and encourage fairer tenancy agreements and leases

3) Making homeownership more realistic and affordable for working households and families in the UK

Sources & further reading:
Government announces homes building plan
Housing white paper: Fixing our broken housing market
First Time Buyer Mag