A large-scale rally held by over 35 organisations is set to take place on Tuesday 17th March to put the housing crisis at the heart of the general election campaign.
The groups, which include Crisis, the Royal Institute of British Architects, the National Housing Federation, among others, are campaigning to significantly increase the supply of new build homes, including affordable properties, across the country to help tackle the chronic shortage of housing nationwide.
Campaigners want to at least double the volume of new homes delivered annually to alleviate the pressure on the market due to the general supply-demand imbalance, caused largely by a lack of house building, in relation to demand, which has contributed significantly to soaring property prices and higher rents, which in turn has pushed up the rate of homelessness, according to some campaigners.
Research conducted by Heriot-Watt University and published last November by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation explains how such trends might play out 25 years from now if no action is taken to boost the supply of new homes. With fewer people buying their own homes and social housing continuing to decline, more families will move to privately rented properties. By 2040, rents are forecast to rise by 90 per cent from 2008, twice as fast as incomes. The average private rent would almost double to £250 in real terms.
With an extra 2.6 million renters thrown into poverty, housing benefit costs could increase by 125 per cent, adding £20 billion to the current bill of £9 billion in state housing benefit already handed out every year to private landlords. As a consequence, the nation’s economic recovery and social cohesion could both be at risk, according to Julia Unwin, Head of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, who said: “Housing is the thread that runs through everything.”
Last week, hundreds of people marched to City Hall to protest over a lack of affordable homes in London.
People carried banners reading, “This is the beginning of the end of the housing crisis” and “Build council homes. Take the wealth off the 1%.”
“We need affordable and secure housing and that should be the starting point – not how many unaffordable rabbit hutches to build to boost council revenues,” said Eileen Short, Chair of Defend Council Housing ahead of the march.
The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) which recently launched its “Programme for Government: 2015 to 2020” designed to help increase the supply of much needed new build homes in this country, is calling on the Government and property industry to collaborate to develop at least 200,000 homes a year by 2020 in order to tackle the housing crisis.
Speaking at high profile cross-party event in Parliament last week, Brian Berry (above), Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “In England we’re only building around half the number of new homes required to meet the demand for housing. Regardless of which party or parties take the reins in May 2015, the next Government must work with industry to develop a robust housing strategy and commit to building at least 200,000 new homes a year by 2020. This is a realistic target and one that can be achieved if we remove barriers to small local builders.”
The FMB’s “Programme for Government: 2015 to 2020”, was welcomed by the Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis, Shadow Housing Minister Emma Reynolds (right) and Communities and Local Government Minister Stephen Williams, with all three MPs agreeing that far more needs to be done to boost the supply of much needed new build homes.
The Tories want to deliver 275,000 new affordable homes between 2015 and 2020, including 100,000 starter homes which would be offered to first-time buyers under the age of 40 at a discount of 20 per cent, as part of the wider delivery of new build homes.
“Housebuilding starts are currently at their highest since 2007,” said Brandon Lewis, the Minister of State for Housing andPlanning for Department for Communities and Local Government.
Labour has also vowed to boost the supply of new build homes by increasing housebuilding rates to 200,000 a year by 2020.
“We need to boost housing supply to tackle the cost-of-living crisis,” said Emma Reynolds, Shadow Housing Minister. “There is a chronic shortage of affordable homes in many parts of Britain.”
The Liberal Democrats has also promised to significantly increase the supply of new homes if elected at this year’s general election by somewhat ambitiously delivering 300,000 new homes per year, supported by a ‘radical approach’ to housebuilding and the construction of various garden cities.
Stephen Williams, Minister for Communities and Local Government, commented: “If the Liberal Democrats are elected, we will build 300,000 new homes a year to help cope with the country’s rising population.”