Brokenshire and May move to fix housing problems

27 Jun 19

The prime minister and the housing secretary have put forward a raft of proposals to tackle the UK’s housing issues. 

Theresa May called for new regulations to deliver better quality housing and set out the next steps for the social housing green paper, speaking at the Charted Institute of Housing conference yesterday. 

May told delegates in Manchester that the number of affordable housing is increasing year-on-year, though the Public Accounts Committee warned yesterday that the government is "way off track" in its target of producing an average of 300,000 new homes every year by the mid 2020s.

The outgoing prime minister criticised the current housing system, which she said leaves tenants with poor quality homes. 

“I cannot defend a system in which owners and tenants are forced to accept tiny homes with inadequate storage and where developers feel the need to fill show homes with deceptively small furniture, and where the lack of universal standards encourages a race to the bottom,” she told delegates. 

Terrie Alafat, chief executive of the CIH, said: “We agree with the Prime Minister that the new homes we build should be of the highest quality, with the space people need. But for millions of our fellow citizens the key issue is that they simply cannot afford a home at all.

“More than 60% of people we asked in a recent survey said they never expected to be able to buy a home, and 20% doubted they'd even be able to rent one.”

Polly Neate, chief executive of the housing charity Shelter, said the announcement was to be applauded but added: “What this country needs – and what it wants – is a commitment from the top, from any prime minister, to a renewal of social housing.”

The charity has previously said a total of 3.1 million new social homes are needed in the next 20 years.

May committed to publishing an action plan and timetable for enacting the social housing green paper, which was released in summer 2018. 

“Our action plan and timetable for implementing wide-ranging reforms of social housing, will be published in September,” she said. 

Plans to end so-called “no fault” evictions were also unveiled by May, with a consultation to be published “shortly”. 

Meanwhile, housing secretary James Brokenshire, was also due to speak at the conference this afternoon and urge Homes England to renegotiate Help to Buy contracts to rule out the selling of new leasehold houses.

Leasehold homeowners only own a property while the land is owned by the freeholder, and this can at times result in “ground rents soaring exponentially over time”, according to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.  

A release from MHCLG said many homes bought through Help to Buy – in which a house buyer receives a government loan to buy a house – come with “onerous and unfair” conditions attached. 

Brokenshire said in an interview with The Times today that housebuilders could be forced to sign up to a code of conduct if they want to have access to the government’s Help to Buy Scheme. 

Currently, there are 2,000 developers signed up to the scheme but many homeowners have been charged hidden fees by developers. 

Did you enjoy this article?