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Housing White Paper: building great expectations?

Government launches its grand plan for housing to fix the 'broken housing market'.

Sheila Manchester
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Great expectations for Government's housing plan

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Housing White Paper - building great expectations?

There’s a sense of excitement, The Housing White Paper lands in my inbox; will it give a Spring bounce to our housing market?

The screen goes grey as 104 pages flip past, am I missing something? A  new thought, idea, plan or action?

Theresa May, Prime Minister, couldn’t be in Parliament today as she is busy with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, which is understandable, she cannot be everywhere, and her Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government is qualified to present this hugely important document.

Mrs May says, “Our broken housing market is one of the greatest barriers to progress in Britain today. Whether buying or renting, the fact is that housing is increasingly unaffordable – particularly for ordinary working class people who are struggling to get by.

“Today the average house costs almost eight times average earnings – an all-time record. As a result it is difficult to get on the housing ladder, and the proportion of people living in the private rented sector has doubled since 2000.

“These high housing costs hurt ordinary working people the most.”

All fine and well, but what is the grand plan? It isn’t grand, it doesn’t even seem to be a plan, it is a blend of old pearls of wisdom, promises that we have heard before, like a wayward husband who promises to do better. In this case of course, the wayward body is the Labour Party, which gets the blame for causing the broken housing market, although the Conservatives have been in power for nearly seven years.

This is a national issue that touches every one of us. Everyone involved in politics and the housing industry has a moral duty to tackle it head on.”

Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid (right) said, “This is a national issue that touches every one of us. Everyone involved in politics and the housing industry has a moral duty to tackle it head on.” But John Healey, Shadow Minister for Housing said, “This is feeble beyond belief – after seven years he says ‘we need to have a conversation’. It isn’t a plan to fix the housing crisis, it will do nothing to help.”

Industry comment

Richard Donnell, Insight Director at Hometrack, said, “This whitepaper builds on five years of housing policies from the Conservative Government that started with the National Planning Policy Framework in 2012.

“These latest announcements represent further policy refinements to this central message and highlight that more still needs to be done to ensure all parties are working together effectively to boost investment in new housing and get all stakeholders focused on upping supply.”

Neil Brearley, director of Cast, said, ”The government’s commitment, in the Housing White Paper, to support elderly people looking to downsize can provide much needed relief to the housing market, freeing up existing housing stock. With the possibility of hundreds of thousands of extra homes being released, it is vital that effective frameworks of incentives are given to older people. The emergence of a dedicated senior living sector, with houses designed specifically for the elderly, will help address the challenges posed by downsizing. But there are a number of key obstacles currently preventing its fuller emergence in the UK.”

It seems Mr. Brearley is right, the main obstacle is a major tendency to talk about understanding, planning and preparing the foundations, without ever reaching the point where the bricks are laid.

It’s clear the developers do need persuading to get on with it. Mark Scott, a specialist in residential property at law firm Blake Morgan, said, “One of the proposals in the Housing White Paper is for developers to commence site construction within two years of planning permission being granted as opposed to the current three year limit which will encourage quicker completion dates.

“This is a certainly a step in the right direction, but a real incentive in my view would be for developers to be offered a tax incentive to achieve early structural completion dates for their buyers and further reforms to the level of Stamp Duty Land Tax payable by first time buyers.”

Nothing much was said about helping older homeowners to downsize, other than that there would be another ‘conversation’ about it, as they want to ,“build on the evidence that already exists to help deliver outcomes that are best for older people.” Powerful stuff.

Neil Brearley, director of Cast, said, ”The government’s commitment to support elderly people looking to downsize can provide much needed relief to the housing market, freeing up existing housing stock. With the possibility of hundreds of thousands of extra homes being released, it is vital that effective frameworks of incentives are given to older people. The emergence of a dedicated senior living sector, with houses designed specifically for the elderly, will help address the challenges posed by downsizing. But there are a number of key obstacles currently preventing its fuller emergence in the UK.”

It seems Mr. Brearley is right, the main obstacle is a major tendency to talk about understanding, planning and preparing the foundations, without ever reaching the point where the bricks are laid.

DOWNLOAD THE HOUSING WHITE PAPER BY CLICKING HERE.

 

 

 

 

HOT TOPIC This story is being discussed in the forum nowThe Negotiator says:

Great expectations for Government's housing plan

Have your say

Housing White Paper - building great expectations?

February 7, 2017