Monday 29th May 2017
Gavin Barwell, Minister of State for Housing and Planning and Minister for London and Conservative MP for Croydon Central
For too long, successive governments have attempted to fix our broken housing market without seriously addressing its basic flaw: we simply do not build enough homes.
The problems are threefold. Many local authorities are not planning for the homes that are needed; house building is too slow once permission has been granted; and we are far too dependent on a small number of large developers.
Our Housing White Paper aims to tackle all of those problems. It recognises the fundamental failings of the current system and sets out long-lasting, wide-reaching reforms to build a stronger, fairer housing market in Britain.
It also builds on the ground-breaking Neighbourhood Planning Bill, which is making progress through the House of Commons, and will be backed by our commitment to invest £25 billion in housing during this Parliament.
Significantly increasing the number of homes we build will make housing more affordable for those who rent or buy, improve social mobility, create more jobs in construction and boost the UK’s economy.
The good news is that we are not starting from scratch. Under my predecessors, house building has recovered from the record lows we inherited in 2010. Almost 900,000 homes have been delivered; annual house building has increased by 30 per cent; and more than 362,000 people have been helped on to the property ladder, thanks to schemes such as Help to Buy and the reinvigoration of the Right to Buy.
However, while those programmes have been successful, they have not gone far enough.
So as part of the solution, we will be consulting on a standard way for councils to calculate housing demand so that it actually reflects housing pressures. Local areas will need to produce a realistic plan and review it at least every five years to make sure enough land is released for new homes. That will ensure we get the right homes built in the right places.
Another priority is to speed up house building. We are giving local authorities the tools they need to boost build out on sites, including new powers to make sure developers keep to schedule. At the same time, the Government will hold planning authorities to account for the delivery of homes through a new Housing Delivery Test.
We also need a more diverse housing market so that homes get built. Currently, around 60 per cent of new homes are built by just 10 companies. So in order to drive up housing supply, we need to support smaller independent builders to enter the field, increasing competition and productivity.
Our £3 billion Home Building Fund will provide loans to SME builders, custom builders and innovators, so they can deliver more than 25,000 new homes this Parliament, and up to 225,000 in the longer term.
Diversifying the market will create thousands of new jobs and deliver a better product to the consumer, who will have more options about the sort of home they wish to live in.
As well as those longer term measures to increase supply, the White Paper also sets out what we are doing to help people right now. We are tackling unfair practices in leasehold and improving safeguards for families in the private rented sector by encouraging longer tenancies, banning unfair letting agent fees and taking action to drive the worst landlords out of the market.
Those are the steps we will take. Building many more homes, in the places people want to live, so we can break down one of the greatest social and economic barriers to progress in Britain today, and truly create a country that works for everyone.
Our goal is to ensure the housing market is fair for those who own their home, those who want to, and those who prefer renting. So that young people growing up today can enjoy the same opportunities as their parents and grandparents, and that we can be remembered as the generation that finally dealt with the problems of our broken housing market.