Government ‘must do more’ to fix housing crisis

The government must go beyond the commitments made in the Housing White Paper if it is to meet the challenge of building a million plus homes, argues think tank.

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A new collection of essays published by IPPR, the progressive policy think tank, urges the government to go further, and to implement bold measures that could promote an increase in the supply of new homes to meet demand.

Within the collection, Michael Lyons, chair of the Lyons Housing Commission, argues the political parties remain “too strongly wedded to owner-occupation and there needs to be recognition we cannot provide the number of homes needed without building homes of all tenures.”

He also makes the case for a more fundamental review of the greenbelt, “in no other area would a policy fixed in 1955 be considered untouchable in perpetuity.”

The book includes essays from:

  • Malcolm Sharp, member Lyons Housing Commission, on the role of land and planning. He argues for stronger measures to make sure that land with planning permission is brought forward swiftly for housing development
  • Mark Clare, former CEO of Barratt Homes and member of the Lyons Housing Commission, on the role of the private housebuilders. He argues for the need to drive the current housebuilders harder, deliver an industrial strategy for housebuilding and increase the number of SME housebuilders
  • Michael Lyons and Caroline Green, director of the Lyons Housing Commission, on giving older people’s housing a higher priority in public policy to benefit the young. They argue for prioritising government subsidy and public land to deliver extracare and specialised housing and ensuring there is more attractive rental offer for older people
  • James Bailey, PwC, on the potential contribution of local authorities. He argues for the establishment of a new generation of housing development companies and ‘bespoke agreements’ to allow local authorities to borrow more in exchange for a commitment to build more homes
  • Bill Hughes, LGIM Real Assets, looks at the bigger contribution that could be made by the market rented sector and proposals to support it including simplifying VAT, improving the planning environment and encouraging capital investment.

Sir Michael Lyons said: “The housing market is broken. That is the stark conclusion of the government’s White Paper published in February 2017. Few would disagree, and the impacts are clear for all to see.

“Both the White Paper and Labour and Conservative manifestos offer wide agendas and suggest a future government might be willing to promote an approach to housing in order to ‘make Britain a country that works for everyone.

“This book of essays supports that ambition and urges the next government to go further, proposing some bolder solutions than those currently on offer.”

Luke Murphy, IPPR senior research fellow, said: “With both Labour and the Conservatives promising large numbers of new homes in their manifestos there is now a consensus in parliament for radical action and a comprehensive plan to fix Britain’s broken housing market.

“This collection of essays offers new ideas that all parties should consider to deal with one of the most pressing problems and most daunting targets presented for the new parliament.”

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