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The business view and the housing white paper: Fixing our broken housing market

In the Government’s Housing White Paper ‘Fixing our broken housing market’, the Rt. Hon. Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, sets out how the Government intends to boost housing supply.

Businesses will take a keen interest in what the White Paper could mean for the national housing shortage. This piece analyses the White Paper using the three key recommendations of the CBI’s housing report ‘No Place Like Home’  published in October 2016.

The intention in the White Paper to deliver a diverse mix of homes – especially affordable homes to rent – is particularly good news. A quiet revolution is needed to shake up how business and the Government deliver the UK’s housing needs, so this White Paper is a welcome step in the right direction.

1. Business wants the Government to encourage development of the right homes for the right people, recognising the importance of the Private Rental Sector.

Diversifying the market – With a diverse population and a rapidly changing demographic, it is important that we are not just providing more homes, but that we are meeting demand through more of the right homes to suit different people’s needs now and in the future.

The White Paper proposes encouraging more institutional investors into housing, including building more homes for private rental, and encouraging family – friendly tenancies.

Increasing the delivery of affordable homes – Housing Associations represent an important piece of the housing puzzle, and have the will and capabilities to boost supply in this part of the market going forward.

The White Paper’s proposal include supporting housing associations and local authorities to build more homes by ensuring social housing regulation is put on a more independent footing and make the Social Housing Regulator a stand – alone body.

Greater consideration for empty nesters – It has been estimated that if just half the number of older people that are interested in downsizing did so, it could free up 3.5 million family sized homes. As such, greater consideration should be given to helping older people who are keen to move to smaller properties, such as specialised retirement homes and developments, which currently make up only 3% of the supply pipeline in the UK.

The White Paper proposes the Government introduces a new statutory duty through the Neighbourhood Planning Bill on the Secretary of State to produce guidance for local planning authorities on how their local development documents should meet the housing needs of older and disabled people.

2. Business wants the Government to recognise the importance of encouraging more market players, who together with innovative partnerships and practices, can further boost capacity.

Supporting SME housebuilders – Supporting small and emerging players in the market is key to them helping to tackle our housing shortage. One specific challenge facing SME house builders is access to finance.

The Government’s newly combined Home Building Fund as well as the White Paper’s commitment to back small and medium sized builders to grow will provide a welcome source of development finance to those who need it.

3. Business wants the Government to consider innovative practices in supporting delivery and cost reduction.

Innovative practices – Off - site manufacture is a development which is already taking place in the market, and represents the opportunity to overcome some of the underlying challenges, ensuring faster production and higher certainty of delivery.

The White Paper proposes boosting productivity and innovation by modernising house building, encouraging modern methods of construction in house building by stimulating the growth of this sector through the Accelerated Construction programme and the Home Builders Fund.