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Breaking Down the Housing Whitepaper

Yesterday (Tuesday 7th February), Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid released the long awaited Housing Whitepaper; a document which is a self-proclaimed ‘plan to fix our broken housing market’.

The figures outlined by Prime Minister Theresa May in her foreword highlight the extent to which the housing market is struggling – figures such as ‘the average house costs almost eight times average earnings’ and ‘more than 2.2 million working households with below-average incomes spend a third or more of their disposable income on housing.’

So, how does Mr Javid plan to alleviate this ‘broken market’? We’ve broken down the key policies and talking points, so you don’t have to.

Builders and developers

  • Starter Homes are to be made available only for households with incomes of less than £80,000 (or less than £90,000 in London).
  • The implementation of off-site construction and infrastructure by small builders will be supported as part of a £3bn funding initiative.
  • The £1.4bn Affordable Homes Programme will now include affordable rent developments, meaning more builders/developers will be eligible to apply for funding.
  • Affordable rent and rent to buy will now be included in affordable housing.

Buyers

  • First time buyers will be provided with a 25% bonus on top of the amount they save with the introduction of the ‘Lifetime ISA’.

Renters

  • The Affordable Homes Programme will see more homes being made available for rent.
  • High rental fees will be addressed, with new measures being put in place.
  • Renters on long term tenancies are to be given more protection.

Local authorities

  • As well as new houses that are built, the New Homes Bonus Scheme will now also be applicable to empty houses that are brought back into use.
  • A new method for working out the housing demand for any given area is to be considered.
  • For homes left empty or unfurnished for over 2 years, councils will be able to enforce up to 50% of council tax premium.
  • Each local area will receive requirements for a ‘realistic’ housing plan which will be reviewed every 5 years.

Land and planning

  • Ensuring developments are finished on time, plans for councils to be able to issue completion notices more easily are to be put in place.
  • An increase in density levels will be required in areas where there is high demand for housing.
  • There will be an emphasis on high-rise development in urban areas.
  • Enabling councils to plan more long term build-to-rent developments, planning rules will be amended.
  • Rather than 3 years (as it was previously), requirements for construction to start on land after planning will decrease to first 2 years. 
  • Greenbelt land will be considered for building, but in special circumstances only.
  • Housing will be the main focus for development on suitable brownfield land.

 

Since its release, the Housing Whitepaper has come under its fair amount of both criticism and praise – par for the course for a government document on a topic with such a vast effect on the population.  

Premier Guarantee are pleased to see an emphasis on both modular construction and modern methods of construction, two areas that we are proud to encourage as our nation’s developers and builders try to tackle the housing shortage.

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