July 26, 2017

Whitehall gives councils powers to fix Britain's 'broken' housing market

08 February 2017, 12:45 | Clarence Schmidt

Housing White Paper what you need to know 7 February 2017 By Ella Braidwood Full screen

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However, there was little to suggest that social renting - the most cost-effective way of alleviating the nation's housing crisis as argued by SHOUT, the campaign to save social housing - will be expanded; even though some limited efforts to enable local councils to build a few more homes may be announced.

With an increased supply of available housing, it is hoped that house prices will become more affordable to those looking to buy their own home as the mismatch between supply and demand stabilises.

"The Government is right to acknowledge England's housing crisis; it is a pity that nothing in today's White Paper will turn things around".

This White Paper will result in ambitious new housing targets for councils which they will have to deliver against - these targets will not be met through an over-reliance on large developers and large sites. According to the government, 40 per cent of local planning authorities do not now have an up-to-date plan.

"We are now too dependent on a small number of large developers building new homes, which is limiting the range of sites and housing types being delivered".

The government announced a range of measures aimed at encouraging the build-to-rent (BTR) sector.

The Guardian noted that households who own their own homes have dropped by 200,000 since 2010. Rent to Buy offers a discounted rent set flexibly at levels to make it locally affordable so renters can still save for a deposit to purchase their home.

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Help for aspiring first time buyers will continue through Government backed home ownership schemes and the new ISA aims to help young people save over a longer term.

It also puts new requirements on local authorities with regards to planning and measures to pick up the slack if their building falls behind target.

In essence, communities secretary Sajid Javid says the current system "isn't working and is one of the greatest barriers to progress in Britain today". Young people, faces pressed against the estate agent's window, trying and failing to find a home they can afford.

"With prices continuing to skyrocket, if we don't act now, a whole generation could be left behind", Javid told Parliament in London. We need to do better, and that means tackling the failures at every point in the system.

The government has said it wants to ensure that infrastructure is provided in the right place at the right time by coordinating its investment and through the "targeting" of the £2.3 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund announced in the Autumn Statement past year. He described the plans as "feeble beyond belief" and said that the government's record on home-building over the past five years spoke for itself, The Guardian reports.

But Johathan Carr-West, chief executive of the Local Government Information Unit, said the paper was a "missed opportunity" to shift power and resources into local authorities and away from developers and central government.

Expected amendments to planning rules, will be meant to allow more homes to be built for rent.

Ministers say they want more security for renters with longer-term tenancies in the private sector. "We have to build more, of the right homes in the right places, and we have to start right now".

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