In 67 per cent of local authorities in England, insufficient houses were built to meet demand in 2015/16 (DCLG 2016; DCLG 2017). Across England, of the 265,936 houses that are needed, just 189,650 new dwellings (71 per cent) were provided. While other factors, such as money supply, play their part, this is impacting on the affordability of housing. House prices have risen by 76 per cent since 1995, far outstripping inflation (ONS 2017).
Nearly all (92%) councils in England are failing to meet affordable housing needs, according to a new report from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR). The IPPR findings went public a day after the government’s own updated affordable housing figures exposed a significant and sustained drop in the supply of affordable homes in the last two years.
To add to the housing crisis, research released by the charity Empty Homes, has shown that both the highest and lowest value properties in England have the highest levels of empty homes. The latest Government data on vacant dwellings shows about 200,000 long-term (over six months) empty homes.
With concerns over Brexit fueling a skills crisis for the sector, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has called on chancellor Philip Hammond to take ’emergency action’ to support homebuilding in the forthcoming Budget. Indeed research shows that the state of housing across the EU is critical, as growth recovery sees house prices rising faster than income in most member states. The new report from the Housing Europe Observatory has revealed that in the two years since the previous edition, housing markets across the EU have started to speed up again, with 2016 seeing the highest annual growth rate in house prices since 2009.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has also called for government investment to double housebuilding. According to new analysis published by City Hall, the capital needs 66,000 new homes every year to meet growing demand and correct years of underinvestment. Almost two-thirds of these homes (65%) would have to be affordable properties, it adds. Funding for affordable homes in London alone would have to rise to £2.7bn a year – five times the current spending level, the analysis suggests. The mayor is calling on Chancellor Philip Hammond to use next month’s Budget to immediately double funding to restore it to the 2009-10 level of £1.75bn a year.
The Government has published its response to the Communities and Local Government Select Committee report on capacity in the homebuilding industry. This includes responses to the use of off-site construction and modern methods of construction and the skills shortage. And in July, the Department for Communities & Local Government and the Homes & Communities Agency launched the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF), an initiative aimed at releasing up to 100,000 new homes through Â£2.3bn of government funding for new and improved infrastructure in potential growth zones. David Edwards in his article for PBC Today asks: Does the £2.3bn Housing Infrastructure Fund represent the next stage of a measured, strategic approach to tackling the housing crisis or is it another knee-jerk reaction? What are your thoughts?