National plans do little to tackle ‘broken housing market’

The government has admitted that the nation’s housing market is ‘broken’ in a recent white paper on housing.
Whilst the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has also acknowledged the home ownership was a ‘distant dream’ for young families, government plans fail to tackle the challenges our communities face in accessing affordable, quality homes.
Challenges include:

  • The number of households who own their own home has fallen by 200,000, with the number of under-35 households owning a home down by 344,000.
  • There are over 900,000 more households renting from a private landlord than in 2010 including one in four families with dependent children, but rents have risen faster than incomes.
  • Despite 13 separate cuts to housing benefit, including the bedroom tax, the housing benefit bill is £4bn higher each year in cash terms.
  • There are 143,000 fewer council homes than in 2010, with only one home in every six sold under the right to buy replaced, despite promises of ‘one for one’ replacement. Measures in the recent housing and planning act are set to mean the loss of 23,503 council houses a year according to the housing charity Shelter.

Whilst the white paper does have some sensible ideas, such as the new two year time limit for developers to hold planning permission before construction; the vast difference between supply and demand has not been addressed.
Commenting on the detail on the content of the white paper, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Housing John Healey MP, said:
“The measures announced so far in Theresa May’s long-promised housing white paper are feeble beyond belief. After seven years of failure and a thousand housing announcements, the housing crisis is getting worse not better.
There are 200,000 fewer home-owners, homelessness has doubled, and affordable house-building has slumped to a 24 year low. Ministers should be setting out clear plans to deal with these problems, but all Theresa May’s Ministers have delivered so far is hot air”.
Cllr Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth Labour’s housing spokesperson, said:
Despite promises of more houses and starter homes to bring rising house prices under control, the government has consistently let down homeowners especially those on lower incomes.
They must do much more than is currently proposed to fix the housing crisis – by ensuring thousands more affordable homes to rent and buy are built, a charter of renters’ rights agreed and an action plan developed to finally end homelessness.
We desperately need more affordable, good quality housing for local people here in Portsmouth”.