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Government plans housing reforms to make home buying fairer and more affordable

Thursday 19 December 2019

The Government has made its plans for the new parliament public in the Queen’s Speech.

The Government’s housing proposals provide the means for the government to “support people to realise the dream of homeownership”, including measures to discount homes for first-time buyers, create a New Homes Ombudsman, reform the leasehold system, remodel shared ownership, and increase building safety.

First-Time Buyers 

The Government will shortly launch a consultation on First Homes.

First Homes are a new initiative which will deliver homes below market prices prioritised for local first-time buyers. The scheme will provide homes at a discount of at least 30 per cent, which will be secured through a covenant funded by developers, meaning the homes will remain discounted in perpetuity.

In 2018 the number of first-time buyers reached nearly 360,000 - an eleven-year annual high.

Quote mark

'The market remains tricky for FTBs and we support initiatives that make it easier for them to get onto the housing ladder and remain in the community they grew up in. The way this will be implemented is important to consider in order to avoid any unintended consequences; however, extending home ownership to a greater number of people in principle should be welcomed.'

Lauren Scott

Mark Hayward
NAEA Propertymark Chief Executive

 

Affordable housing

The Government will also renew the Affordable Homes Programme, building “hundreds of thousands of new homes for a range of people in different places.”  

Shared Ownership reforms 

Plans were announced for a reformed Shared Ownership model, aimed at making buying a share of a home fairer and more transparent. Owners will be able to buy more of their property and eventually reach full ownership. 

Planning and infrastructure

The Government is committed to building at least a million more homes over the course of this Parliament.

A Planning White Paper, funding for critical infrastructure, and further measures will be set out in coming months.

The Planning White Paper will make the planning process clearer, more accessible and more certain for all users, including homeowners and small businesses. It will also address resourcing and performance in planning departments. A new £10bn Single Housing Infrastructure fund will provide the roads, schools and GP surgeries needed to support new homes.

Leasehold reforms

A comprehensive programme of reform to end unfair practices in the leasehold market will go forward. This includes working with the Law Commission to make buying a freehold or extending a lease easier, quicker and more cost-effective, and to reinvigorate commonhold and Right to Manage. The Government will ensure that if a new home will always be sold as freehold if I can be, and plans to scrap ground rents on new leases. Homeowners will receive new rights to challenge unfair charges. The proportion of new build houses in England and Wales sold as leasehold fell to 2 per cent in Q2 2019.

Building safety

Measures were also announced to put in place new and enhanced regulatory regimes for building safety and construction products. A Fire Safety Bill will address issues with cladding and fire safety, following Dame Judith Hackitt’s review of the current regulatory system in the wake of the Grenfell fire. Measures will include legislation to require developers of new build homes to belong to a New Homes Ombudsman.

Environmentally friendly homes

A new Office for Environmental Protection billed as a “world-leading environmental watchdog” is to be established to hold authorities to account and local powers to tackle air pollution will be increased.

A programme of policy and investment in climate change will be at the fore and the first Budget will prioritise the environment. This will help deliver the green infrastructure needed to achieve Net Zero and help lower energy bills, with a £9.2 billion investment in the energy efficiency of homes. A further £4 billion has been committed to improving flood defences.

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