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Quick Guide to the UK Government Housing White Paper

The UK Government recently published their housing white paper, outlining how they intend to reform the UK’s “broken” housing market and increase the supply of new homes for first time buyers.

Housing in the UK is increasingly unaffordable. In fact, the average house costs almost eight times an average annual salary. The white paper discloses that the proportion of people living in the private rented sector has doubled in the last twenty years. Overall, fewer people having disposable income to save for a deposit on a home.

However, expensive homes are not the only problem. According to our Secretary of State, “this country doesn’t have enough homes. That’s not a personal opinion or a political calculation. It’s a simple statement of fact”.

Housebuilding rates have not kept up with our growing population and generations of people are suffering as a result. On average, there are 160,000 new homes built every year but this figure needs to be 275,000.

The white paper states that our housing marketing is broken for three reasons:

  1. Local authorities do not have a plan that meets projected growth in their area
  2. House building is too slow. There is a large gap between planning permissions being granted and new homes being built.
  3. The construction industry relies on a small number of big players. Britain’s 10 largest housebuilding firms build approximately 60% of UK private homes.

What does the Government propose to do about it?

  1. Ensure local authorities have an up-to-date housing plan so there are enough homes for the local population.
  2. Increase transparency around land ownership so it is clear what land is available for housing and development.
  3. Maximise contribution from brownfield and surplus public land. Only 11% of land in England is currently built-on, so there is plenty of space.
  4. Give communities a stronger voice in the design of new housing to reduce opposition to new developments.
  5. Invest in making the planning system more open and accessible so individuals can build their own homes.
  6. Prevent unnecessary delays from applicants who secure planning permission but fail to build.
  7. Ensure infrastructure is provided because communitites need schools, travel links, etc.
  8. Open up the housing market for smaller builders who embrace innovative and efficient methods.
  9. Promote modular and factory-built homes to speed up development.
  10. Make renting fairer for tenants to prevent homelessness and to help more people keep money in their pockets so they can save for a deposit.

What did you think of the Government’s proposal? Was it enough or was it “feeble” as described by one Labour MP?

Read the full paper here

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