Sajid Javid renews pledge of a million new homes by 2020 – industry reaction
Communities secretary Sajid Javid has taken to the podium at this week’s Conservative Party conference to renew the government’s pledge to build one million new homes by 2020, and announce new measures to assist the housing industry in achieving the target.
Javid has taken the opportunity to create what he called "largest state-backed" housing programme since the 1970s, which needs a considerable boost to bring last year’s estimated 170,000 new homes up to 200,000 per year for the five years of this parliament.
"We have a responsibility to build more houses, a responsibility not just to our constituents but to the next generation, Javid said, as the Conservatives announced investment of £5bn to assist the building programme. An ‘Accelerated Construction’ scheme will be given £2bn to make public-owned brownfield land more quickly available for building on, while a £3bn ‘Home Building Fund’ will provide loans to encourage development. Together, these schemes would support around 40,000 new homes over the next few years.
"This is just the beginning," Javid added. "We will publish a housing white paper later this year with further significant measures all helping us towards our ambitions of a million new homes by 2020."
The communities secretary also took the opportunity to criticise nimby-ism, where people support new housing buy ‘not in my back yard’. "Everyone agrees we need more homes, but too many object to them being next to us," said Javid "We have got to change that attitude.Of course, there are sometimes some valid reasons for opposing some local planning applications - if they are in the wrong place, if there is not enough infrastructure or if they are just plain ugly, but all of us we have a duty to think of the long-term consequences of every decision we make.”
Political and industrial figures have started to react to this morning’s announcement:
"Government [is] finally recognising that building new homes is where they need to focus to create a sustainable economy. It's not just their moral duty to build these homes. We would remind ministers and homebuilders that it is also their moral duty to build homes that are fit for purpose; so high-quality homes that meet the requirements of not only first-time buyers but of last-time buyers as well. We must build homes people would be proud to live in, not that make the most profit for the builder. More homes will not be enough to tackle the ever widening gap between wages and house prices and needs to look at ways to help the current generation that is priced out.” Paula Higgins, chief executive of HomeOwners Alliance.
“It is pretty galling to hear Sajid Javid, a multi-millionaire, who talks a lot about aspiration attack someone over their properties. If the government wants to solve our country's housing crisis they will have to do much, much more than the level of investment announced today. Experts say we need to be building 300,000 homes a year- double what we currently build. There is a huge task ahead and this announcement is a drop in the ocean." Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrats
"Relying on large housebuilders to deliver the homes we need is doomed to failure. It is absolutely right that this fund should be targeted at small builders. For too long, accessing funding for their projects has been simply too difficult, with the big banks not interested or too constrained to help. According to the NHBC Foundation, 22% of small developers describe obtaining finance as a ‘major challenge’. This fund is a terrific step towards addressing that funding gap and ensuring we improve the number of homes built in the UK. However, helping them to pick up the housebuilding slack will take more than money alone - the government must act immediately to make land more accessible to them, as well as supporting measures which will ensure they develop the skillset they need to make a success of their projects." Christian Faes, co-founder and CEO of online mortgage lender LendInvest
“Welcome news today that our incessant pleas for the government to identify Britain’s wasted brownfield sites to build on, seem to have been listened to. The government itself owns around 180,000 brownfield sites from industrial estates to airports and so this intent straight off the bat to utilise some of it, is at the very least, a step in the right direction. Although Mr Javid may have described the 170,000 homes delivered as not a bad number, but it is still a shortfall of around 80,000 homes that we need to be building in order to quench the thirst of struggling aspirational buyers. We will wait and see how many of today’s promises come to fruition before we start to praise these latest endeavours by the government, as essentially we’ve heard them all before but seen very little in the way of them being delivered.” Russell Quirk, founder and CEO of eMoov.co.uk