Chairman of the NAPIT Trade Association, Frank Bertie, discusses the Government’s White Paper on Housing and how this could affect the industries that we represent.
Last month the Government released its anticipated white paper on housing. The paper, entitled ‘Fixing our broken housing market’, discusses the current problems in UK housing and how the Government intends to resolve them. As a Trade Association, NAPIT is aware that developments in the housing market have an impact on our membership, which is why are determined to voice opinions on important issues and represent our members.
In a blog post we released last August we discussed the proposals from the Government’s Autumn Statement and its stance on housing. In the blog post, we stated that the Government faced an immense challenge in trying to achieve its target of building one million homes by 2020. The new white paper confirms these concerns. To quote the white paper, ‘there is a consensus that 225,000 to 275,000 or more homes will need to be built in England to keep up with population growth and tackle many years of under-supply’. To put this into perspective, the average number of new dwellings in England between 2010 to 2016 amounted to around 124,220 properties.
The white paper lays out three reasons behind the lack of house building – A lack of local authorities planning for the homes they need, a construction industry that is too reliant on a small number of ‘big players’, and house building being simply too slow. The white paper proposes three solutions that the Government will look to pursue to help resolve these issues. Firstly, the Government wants to make sure that greater planning is implemented so that the ‘right homes’ are built in the ‘right places’. In their view, this is not happening at present as local authorities tend to avoid difficult decisions on house building due to their methodologies for calculating ‘objectively assessed need’. To combat this, the Government will create a new standard methodology for assessing this and insist that every area has up-to-date plans.
One of the realities behind this housing crisis is that homes are simply not being built fast enough. To resolve this, the Government is looking at ways at making the planning system more open and accessible as a means of tackling delays. By giving councils and developers more tools to build homes faster, coupled with punishing applicants who secure planning permission but fail to use it, the Government hopes that the rate of house building will improve as a result. Finally, the white paper states that diversification in the housing market is essential to ensuring a healthy balance of new builds. The Government hopes to achieve this by opening the market to smaller builders (SMEs) and those who embrace innovation and methods of efficiency. They also believe that these changes have the potential to have a lasting and positive impact on the housing supply in the long run.
As a Trade Association, NAPIT are always keeping a close eye on developments in the housing market. Our members and their businesses benefit hugely as a result of new builds, therefore we are hopeful that the proposals set out by the Government prove fruitful. Of course, the Government will have to prove that it is able to see these proposals into fruition and that, they are not just empty words. Nevertheless, it is encouraging that they are being open about the problems and not hiding away from the issues, which is one step to resolving them. One area we are particularly pleased to see mentioned in the White Paper is its commitment to continue working with industry experts in considering whether or not to mandate electrical safety checks in the Private Rented Sector. As one of our primary campaigning objectives, we are pleased to see that this issue is continuing to receive recognition and progress is being made.
Moving forward, NAPIT are going to continue to monitor developments in the housing market and report back to our membership. We are confident that change is possible in the housing market if the correct measures are taken and these proposals are one step towards that. Equally, we are pleased that the Government has continued its consideration for mandatory electrical safety checks and this is something that we will continue to campaign on.