The Housing Forum's 10-point Manifesto for Housing13 September 2019
The Housing Forum’s Manifesto for Housing:
Achieving increased supply of the right homes and raising the quality of new homes are heavily impacted by wider economic conditions and the approach taken by the Government through supply and demand-side measures. The impact of Brexit and policy and investment decisions have the potential to immediately stimulate or contract market forces.
Unlike investment in other infrastructure, Government can commit to capital programmes and policies which realise immediate economic impacts in the lifetime of an administration and provides demonstrable outputs to voters.
The Housing Forum is calling for the next Government to adopt a 10-point manifesto:
1. Political leadership
Leadership is essential to deliver change. The appointment of a Secretary of State for Housing as a member of Cabinet should be a first step. It is essential that housing is recognised as a fundamental part of UK infrastructure and seen as a brief on its own.
2. Restoring balanced housing markets
Housing markets have become generationally unbalanced with many young people denied access to housing choice, living with parents or unable to buy a home of their own. Policies need to address the generational divide through targeted home ownership, demand-side measures and a specific supply focus through fiscal incentives supporting young household formations.
3. Developing more affordable homes
There is a historic supply-side deficit of affordable homes for both rent and shared ownership. Capital funding for affordable homes has not kept pace with population and household growth. This further imbalanced the market with the consequence that too many do not have access to homes which are affordable.
Government should make an unequivocal commitment to funding an increased level of affordable homes. This would also assist with diversifying tenures to increase build out rates.
4. Underpin a commitment to housing supply with strong and effective planning services
Our planning services are stressed and simply underperforming. This is acting as a barrier to the pace of delivery, frustrates SME formation and dampens investment. Very few projects achieve determinations in line with statutory deadlines and local authorities are light on resources and expertise. Reform is desperately required. There should be a presumption that reserved matter consents are delegated to officers.
5. Reform public sector procurement
Public sector procurement obligations typically result in delays and numerous obligations to be satisfied before starting on-site, yet private sector organisations can come to site much faster. The pursuit of value for money through least-initial cost procurement has failed the industry in quality and resulted in high profile failures.
The way construction is procured must change and post Brexit, the opportunity must be taken to reform this process and see construction as a value-added service with improved supply chain resilience.
6. Enable and compel Local Authorities to commission supply
Local Authorities have new financial freedoms but not all are focussed on using these freedoms. The Government should use its capital funding tools to encourage and reward local authorities who are actively focussed on housing supply. We welcome the continued activity of Homes England acting as the Government’s housing accelerator and would increase the Agency’s engagement with local authorities, encouraging delivery partnerships.
7. Tackle the legacy of build quality
Post-Grenfell, significant issues of building quality have emerged, suggesting systemic problems across the construction sector. The findings of the Hackett Review and reform of safety in buildings must be implemented quickly. Resolving these problems in existing buildings will require government support to building owners. The Government should continue its approach to elevate the quality of design and construction by placing consumer occupiers central to the process.
8. Later living accommodation
There is a growing need to address the requirements to house an ageing population. Later living and initiatives designed to link adult social care budgets with a later living home building programme could deliver an integrated and cost-effective approach. This requires a broader view beyond individual departmental budgets. Extra care housing has proved that it costs the public sector less in care costs.
9. Future proof the industry
Built environment skills overall are well below industry needs, there is need to modernise the construction sector in line with the Farmer report and new technologies need to be integrated within the supply chain to support the Government’s climate change commitments.
Clients should be incentivised to bring forward a larger pipeline of work with digital construction elements to enable investment in technology necessary to deliver Modern Methods at scale. A future Government should support this through a campaign to build the nation’s skills, encouraging diversity and digitisation.
10. A cross-party long term plan for housing
We want all political parties to commit collectively to support a long-term plan for housing which can last for several administrations and offer tenure choice and opportunities for all.
This includes recognition that a strong housing proposition relies on the consistency of supply which allows housing businesses to plan for the long term and achieve better value outcomes with suppliers, manufacturers and the full supply chain. Interface with the National Infrastructure Commission to facilitate better integration of housing delivery with infrastructure investment.
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