With the housing crisis firmly on the political agenda, the CBI’s Chief Economist Rain Newton-Smith joined Liz Truss MP Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Alan Manning Professor of Economics LSE and Lindsay Judge, Senior Policy Analyst at the Resolution Foundation to discuss if the housing crisis has made us a less mobile nation. The discussion considered whether people are moving for work more than ever and if the rise of private rented accommodation has made it easier for people to move around for work.
Rain argued that there has never been a more important time to invest in infrastructure and to explore the synergies between housing and labour market mobility. In particular, she raised three key areas:
- Housing should be an infrastructure priority
Building homes should no longer be seen in isolation, but as part of an integrated infrastructure system. New housing requires new infrastructure such as roads, schools, hospitals and they need to be designed, planned and delivered together.
There’s a growing argument that this current lack of integration has made the UK a less mobile nation with commuting connections between homes and work becoming oversubscribed and people forced to stay living in locations where they can easily get to work.
As urban populations increase, leading to cities becoming more congested, we will also need a new approaching to using space more effectively. This should include developing accessible and fast transport systems alongside planning for more affordable housing.
- It is time to create a joined-up narrative across all levels of government and the housing sector
To deliver on the target of building 300,000 new homes a year will require collaboration and joined up policy making across government, at both a local and central level. Currently each department is operating in silos causing frustration for the industry. Changing this approach will be critical if government wants to futureproof the UK’s infrastructure in a world of rapid technology changes, and the need for reducing our carbon.
The development of local industrial strategies is a positive step in developing this narrative,and can help ensure infrastructure is integrated with other programmes locally. In turn this will maximise their impact on employment and skills, delivering high quality housing, and improving public green spaces and air quality.
- We must continue to tackle systemic barriers to housing delivery, including access to land, planning and skills
Government and industry must continue to work together to address the perennial issues that have hampered the delivery of housing; land, planning and skills. This should include reforms to the apprenticeship levy and T-levels, alongside developing partnerships at a local level to truly understand the planning system in action. More importantly, the government must set a clear policy direction for delivery so that local decisions can be taken to deliver the right housing in the right places.
The CBI will continue making the case to the government about the importance of integration of housing and transport infrastructure in the upcoming budget. This will draw on the messages above, as well as ongoing engagement with our members.
To find out more about the CBI’s work on housing, contact Tim Miller or Tania Kumar.