Fixing Our Broken Housing Market: A Government Housing White Paper
In this post we will look at Fixing Our Broken Housing Market: A Housing White Paper. We will look at what it is, what it covers and at what the White Paper proposes should be done about the housing market.
What is 'Fixing Our Broken Housing Market'?
The policy paper Fixing Our Broken Housing Market is a housing White Paper. It sets out the Government’s plans to reform the housing market and boost the supply of new homes in England.
The housing White Paper was presented to Parliament by the then Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in February 2017.
The White Paper applies to England only. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, housing and planning policy is the responsibility of the Scottish Government, Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Executive respectively.
Access our selection of exclusive, high-yielding, off-market property deals and a personal consultant to guide you through your options.
What is the White Paper About?
This White Paper set out the Government’s plans to boost the supply of new homes in England.
It includes measures to ensure that they plan for the right homes in the right places, build homes faster, diversify the housing market and help people now.
As part of the White Paper, the Government also consulted on changes to planning policy and legislation in relation to planning for housing, sustainable development and the environment. The consultation involved parties from across the public and private sectors and the general public.
The White Paper was prepared to address the viewpoint that the housing market in this country is broken. It says this is because over the years too few homes have been built to satisfy the demand for them.
Since the 1970s there have been on average 160,000 homes built annually in England. The White Paper suggests that around 225,000 to 275,000 or more homes per year are needed to make up for past undersupply and keep up with population growth.
The White Paper says that this isn’t because there’s no space for new homes. But because not enough local authorities are planning for the homes they need; house building is too slow; the construction industry is too reliant on a small number of big companies.
It says that the law of supply and demand means the ratio of average house prices to average earnings has more than doubled in recent years and that many houses ‘earn’ more than their owners. As a result home ownership has become unaffordable for many, and it has also caused rents to rise too. It also negatively affects people, the economy, the labour market and the construction industry.
The White Paper says that building more homes involves three significant challenges: Over 40% of local authorities do not have an adequate local plan; the pace of development is too slow and the housing market structure makes it hard to increase supply.
Fixing Our Broken Housing Market says this is "a problem that won’t solve itself" and that "tough decisions" need to be taken to tackle the housing shortage.
It says that the challenge of increasing supply cannot be met by Government alone and that it requires leadership from a wide range of stakeholders. These include local authorities, private developers, housing associations, lenders and local communities.
Fixing Our Broken Housing Market sets out a plan in four key steps:
1. Planning for the Right Homes in the Right Places
- Making sure that every part of the country has an adequate local plan.
- Simplifying local plan making.
- Ensuring that plans use an honest assessment of the need for new homes in each area.
- Clarifying what land is available for homes by making ownership of it more transparent.
- Making more housing land available, from sources such as brownfield land.
- Maintaining strong protection for the Green Belt.
- Giving communities a stronger voice in housing design.
- Making better use of land by building higher density housing and reviewing space standards.
2. Building Homes Faster
- Providing greater certainty for local authorities by reducing the scope for their local plans to be undermined.
- Improving the speed and quality of the handling of planning cases.
- Ensuring infrastructure is provided in the right place at the right time to facilitate development.
- Ensuring that utilities are connected promptly.
- Supporting developers to build out more quickly, and a new approach to how developers contribute to the cost of providing infrastructure.
- Addressing skills shortages in the construction industry.
- Holding developers to account for housing delivery.
- Holding local authorities to account with a housing delivery test.
3. Diversifying the Housing Market
- Backing small and medium-sized builders to grow.
- Supporting the custom-built homes market.
- Bringing in new contractors who can build more quickly through an Accelerated Construction programme.
- Encouraging more institutional investors into housing projects such as build-to-rent.
- Supporting housing associations and local authorities to build more homes.
- Boosting productivity and innovation by encouraging modern methods of construction.
4. Helping People Now
- Continuing support to help people to buy, such as Help to Buy and Starter Homes.
- Helping households who are priced out of the market, such as with the Affordable Homes Programme.
- Making renting fairer for tenants.
- Promoting transparency and fairness for leaseholders.
- Improving neighbourhoods with policies to tackle empty homes and second homes.
- Encouraging the development of housing to meet the future needs of the population.
- Helping the most vulnerable who need support with an approach to funding supported housing.
- Doing more to prevent homelessness by supporting people before they become homeless, as well as reducing rough sleeping.
Fixing Our Broken Housing Market: Conclusions
The White Paper made a number of conclusions. It said that you do not need to be an expert to know that the housing market is broken – you just have to be one of the people who cannot afford to buy or rent.
It re-iterated that the problem is due to not enough houses being built, but that the problem is not insoluble. All the parties involved in planning and building houses need to work together, and that the measures in the White Paper will facilitate this.
It said that the Government expects to see action as the result of its proposals, and action will be taken against local authorities and developers who do not pull their weight.
It said that although the proposals are intended to help councils, builders and others deliver more housing the priority is to help homeowners and tenants both today and tomorrow.
The Fixing Our Broken Housing Market White Paper concluded: ‘It’s a bold, radical vision for housing in this country. Now we must all work together to turn our blueprint into bricks and mortar.’
Fixing Our Broken Housing Market: Consultation
Following the publication of the White Paper, the Government ran a consultation on the proposals. It also consulted on changes to planning policy and legislation.
The Department for Communities and Local Government consulted on new planning proposals to involve amendments to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and regulations. It also set out some wider changes to national planning policy in relation to sustainable development and the environment
The consultation process involved parties from across the public and private sectors and the general public and ran for several weeks in 2017.
In spring 2018 the Government published a summary of the consultation responses and the Government’s view on the way forward.