Government Admits Housing Market is ‘Broken’
The Government has admitted in its new housing white paper that Britain’s housing market is flawed, with first time buyers needing to save for decades for a deposit, and young families unable to afford private rents. Sajid Javid, the Communities Secretary, announced an influx of new housing would solve the problem of supply and demand.
The paper targets developers holding on to sites, and older people living in houses larger than their needs. Proposals to increase rates of construction include reducing the expiry date of granted planning permissions to two years (it is currently three). Those in the countryside can breathe a sigh of relief: Javid said existing greenbelt laws would remain undiluted.
The announcements will do little to provide quick relief in a country where relative rates of housebuilding have been the lowest in Europe since the 1980s. House prices in England are around 7.5 times average income. Rents in many parts of the country swallow more than half of take-home pay.
The paper stopped short of proposing rent controls, and does not confirm a solid date for the banning of letting agency fees, which could have been one of the reasons the paper was labelled ‘feeble beyond belief’ by Labour’s housing spokesperson John Heeley MP.
Most positively, the paper acknowledges a need to improve the ‘speed and quality’ with which planning applications are handled, and ensuring councils have the ‘skilled professionals’ they need - another admission that the system is falling short.