UK Housing Shortage Crisis

Thursday 17 November 2016

Housing and Planning Minister Gavin Barwell has announced a new £18 million ‘capacity fund’ to help speed up larger housing builds, targeting sites of 1,500 units or more across the UK. Councils can bid for a share of the funding which is aimed at tackling planning issues and speeding up any delays.

The creation of six new Housing Zones has been introduced, located in Sheffield, Grimsby and Cleethorpes, Barnsley, Sandwell, Blackburn and Burnley, and the Wirral. Sited on brownfield land, the developments have the potential capacity for 10,000 new homes.

A Garden Town is also due to be built in Shepway, Kent, to include around 12,000 homes along with schools and other essential facilities. In addition, a further £1.5 million is being provided to support existing Garden Towns and Communities at Bicester, Didcot, Basingstoke, North Essex and North Northamptonshire.

Talking about the developments, Gavin Barwell has said: “We want to turbo-charge house building on large sites to get the homes built in the places people want to live, so that this country works for everyone, not just the privileged few.”

With Chancellor Philip Hammond due to deliver his first Autumn Statement later this month, he is expected to announce new measures to support smaller house builders. A £3 billion housing fund has already been announced to help smaller building firms, with an additional £2 billion loan fund expected which will support a further 15,000 new homes on public sector land by 2020.

House prices have escalated in recent years as a result of continuing housing shortages. The Government’s target of one million new homes within the next four years has been criticised by Labour as being “disappointing”, expressing concerns that house building levels are currently falling short.

Although critics have cited that the Government are not doing enough by way of affordable housing (delivery in 2015/16 was 52% lower than the previous year), there does appear to be a focus on long term remedies with supply planned to increase over the next five years.

Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, has pledged to take unprecedented steps to boost housing. The Housing White Paper that is due to be published this month is likely to address issues such as releasing more land, diversifying the market and increasing certainty in the planning system.