Housing market ” broken” says government – duh!

Owl says: funny how it took the government SO long to see the “housing market” is, and always has been, broken under their tenure.

Still, lots of developers have got VERY rich on the back of their mistakes … developers who give LOTS and LOTS of money to the Conservative Party and who basically were given the National Planning Policy Framework to write in their own image.

However, now that there is a real possibility of losing millions of votes from people in dire housing need – the “just about managing” that they must capture and keep if they want to stay in power not just feckless Labour voters – more tinkering at the edges is being offered, rather than real solutions.

What is needed is what happened after WW2: a massive government housebuilding programme – NOT developer-led.

Still, never too late …! Although Brexit now pushing up materials costs due to the devaluation of the pound coupled with a shortage of skilled labour makes this the worst of times for the government to dig itself out of a very big hole.

“England’s housing market is “broken”, ministers have admitted, as they unveil plans to build more affordable homes.

The new housing strategy for England includes forcing councils to plan for their local housing needs and giving them powers to pressure developers to start building on land they own.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said people want a decent home not a “false choice” between renting and owning.

Labour accused the government of “seven years of failure” on housing.
The government says at least 250,000 new homes are needed each year to keep pace with demand and local councils and developers need to “get real” to the scale of the challenge.

Mr Javid will set out the details of the housing White Paper in a statement to MPs.

Measures are expected to include:

Forcing councils to produce an up-to-date plan for housing demand
Expecting developers to avoid “low density” housing where land availability is short
Reducing the time allowed between planning permission and the start of building from three to two years
Using a £3bn fund to help smaller building firms challenge major developers, including support for off-site construction, where parts of buildings are assembled in a factory
A “lifetime ISA” to help first-time buyers save for a deposit
Maintaining protection for the green belt, which can only be built on “in exceptional circumstances”
So-called starter homes, championed by ex-PM David Cameron, will be aimed at “households that need them most” with combined incomes of less than £80,000 or £90,000 in London.

The government said there would be a change in focus from starter homes – which will be offered to first-time buyers at a discount – to “a wider range of affordable housing”.

Mr Javid will say: “Walk down your local high street today and there’s one sight you’re almost certain to see. Young people, faces pressed against the estate agent’s window, trying and failing to find a home they can afford.
“With prices continuing to skyrocket, if we don’t act now, a whole generation could be left behind. We need to do better, and that means tackling the failures at every point in the system.

“The housing market in this country is broken and the solution means building many more houses in the places that people want to live.”

Asked if ministers were abandoning their goal of increasing home ownership – an ambition of most post-war Conservative governments – Mr Javid told BBC Radio 4’s Today that the approach “shouldn’t all be about ownership”.
“It is a false choice. The reality is we need more homes, whether to rent or buy.”

With house prices now eight times average earnings and the number of affordable homes being built at a 24-year low, he said the cost of housing was the “greatest barrier to social progress in Britain today”.

Many councils, he added, had “fudged the numbers” when it came to assessing local housing needs and this had to change.

Ministers have admitted the government is behind schedule in its efforts to build one million new homes in England by 2020.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England welcomed what it said was a focus on addressing current failings rather than “meddling” with the planning system.
“We are pleased that ministers have recognised that weakening the Green Belt is unnecessary,” said chief executive Shaun Spiers. “But with 360,000 houses already proposed for Green Belt land the government needs to do much more to uphold national policy and stop councils releasing it for development.”

Labour’s shadow housing minister John Healey said: “The measures announced so far in Theresa May’s long-promised housing white paper are feeble beyond belief.

“After seven years of failure and 1,000 housing announcements, the housing crisis is getting worse not better.”


One thought on “Housing market ” broken” says government – duh!

  1. The problem is that it was this governments planning policies that broke it in the first place – and unless they recognise this and analyse what it was that they got wrong then they are highly likely (by which I mean almost certainly) to repeat their mistakes with further ill advised policies that will make things worse rather than better.

    If they were at all interested in listening to advice (which of course they are not – and certainly not from a nobody from nowhere i.e. me), I would recommend the following:

    a. Make a new assessment about whether there is a housing crisis or not – read this and two further parts written by the Director of Consulting at Oxford Economics and former HM Treasury economist: https://medium.com/@ian.mulheirn/part-1-is-there-really-a-housing-shortage-89fdc6bac4d2#.4cbh7v9nu

    b. Decide whether new homes need to be built and if so what types;

    c. Look at the current state of the housing market, whether there is a cartel or anti-competitive approach operating amongst the few very large house builders either to keep house prices high by restricting supply or whether their land-banking of land with planning permission and the availability of building land is restricting competition from small developers;

    d. Look at how developers can reduce affordable housing provision by claiming a lack of profitability on a large proportion of their developments yet make huge increases in profits year after year after year;

    e. review whether their previous planning policies have been a contributing factor or cause of the structural issues in the house building market, and if so why and how to avoid repeating the mistake;

    f. look again at whether the private or public sector is best positioned to deliver the affordable housing requirement;

    g. consider whether incentives to encourage developers to build the types of housing actually required, or disincentives (i.e. legal requirements and / or taxes) to make them free up their land banks are the best ways forward

    Only then will they be in a position to decide what actions to take. Whilst I have not read the White Paper, I get the feeling from what has been said by ministers recently that it will not have been analysed properly and is therefore likely to make things worse rather than better.


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