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Housing White Paper comment from Dave Sheridan

We welcome the publication of the Housing White Paper - available to read here https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-announces-ambitious-plan-to-build-the-homes-britain-needs

We’re pleased to see that the Government recognises the need for modern methods of construction and acknowledges the need for estate regeneration, as well as for Help to Buy and institutional investment in new rented homes. For us the most significant development is that housing associations and local authorities will be empowered to build more homes. Going forward the challenge for the Government is to ensure that real change actually happens.

Self-delivery by local authorities:

“Councils, desperate to take control of supply and build more homes, will be disappointed not to see the relaxation of HRA borrowing restrictions. Borrowing is the biggest single issue and they will continue to be dependent on the combination of finance that can be raised through private sector partners and the pots of funding announced recently by the Government.”

“The white paper offers bespoke deals with local authorities in high demand areas, but using a package of existing measures. This could reveal some effective models for achieving greater volume, but in the short term successes will be highly localised.”

“Partnership projects could deliver more if local authorities are able to dispose of land to their partners at less than best consideration. They will have to take a hit on their capital receipts from the land, but can make up for that with the long term rental income from new homes.”

Modular homebuilding:

“We share the Government’s confidence in modular construction, but think more could have been done to establish the order book needed for investment by manufacturers. We’re keen to see more detail on exactly how the Home Builders Fund can be accessed, but are disappointed that there is no mention of fast tracking procurement through the HCA. It’s good to see that the Government recognises the need to establish a joint working group with all involved to ensure that mortgages are readily available.”

Starter Homes:

"Any attempt to apply the same rules to every site risks undermining viability, but a 10% quota for affordable home ownership is unlikely to require a substantially different approach from the norm, especially when there is freedom over which schemes make up that 10%. What was important to us was that Starter Homes made additional development possible. The £1.2 billion Starter Home Land Fund promises to do that.”

Private rented sector:

“Build to Rent is key to meeting the demand for more high quality accommodation for private rent. Newly built homes in the private rented sector, supported by institutional investment, will relieve pressure on the market and improve the range of affordable housing options. We support the ambition to encourage more institutional investment and we’re also pleased to see the government looking to establish longer-term tenancies, especially for local authorities delivering private rented homes through local housing companies.”

Retirement living:

“We welcome the Government’s commitment to the requirements of older people who need more affordable right-sizing options. Helping them to move will create much needed fluidity in the market. We therefore strongly support plans to introduce a new statutory duty, through the Neighbourhood Planning Bill, to produce guidance for local planning authorities on how their development documents should meet the housing needs of older and disabled people.”