In every region of the UK, CBI members’ message on housing has been clear. The availability and affordability of homes impacts business, whether it’s because they operate in or supply to the sector itself, or because it affects how successfully they attract and retain talented workers. The challenge is that there are no catch-all solutions: a variety of complex factors influences housing affordability, from over-demand for homes in urban areas, to soaring market rental rates and the additional cost and time to employees from their commutes.
The CBI set up a roundtable discussion to support businesses in navigating some of the issues, and discuss potential solutions. On 6 September, the CBI’s Yorkshire and Humber members gathered in Doncaster to hear from Ed Miliband MP and Greg Beales, Shelter’s Director of Communications, about the role that social housing can play in tackling the UK’s housing crisis.
Attendees agreed that there has never been a more important time for the private and public sector to partner in delivering the affordable homes the country needs. The conversation highlighted three priority policy areas where this could occur;
- The need to make housing a national infrastructure priority – given the long-term policy needed to deliver homes at scale now and in the future, a national view of the challenges would support integrated policy solutions while accounting for regional differences
- Championing the value of social housing in delivering the UK’s housebuilding targets – Put simply, there is no single housing option that will solve affordability. Making sure there is diversity of tenure, growing the volume of social housing alongside improvements in the private housing sector, will be critical to meeting the government’s 300,000 homes target
- Responding to the skills challenge – this remains an acute issue given rising labour costs and skills shortages already hindering the speed at which homes can be built and upgraded. With a rapid requirement to reduce the carbon footprint of the UK’s housing stock in the drive to a net-zero economy by 2050, including retrofitting up to 27 million homes, this is only set to become more important.
There must be a step change in government policy if the UK is to meet its housing targets.
The CBI will be making the case to the new government on the delivery of housing infrastructure in the February 2020 budget using the messages above and from ongoing engagement with our members in the new year.