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IPPR - Government must go further than white paper to build the homes they promised

The Lyons Housing Commission and IPPR publish a collection of essays, arguing that amidst political uncertainty, there is a need for a comprehensive plan to fix the broken housing market that can’t be ignored

A new collection of essays published by IPPR, the progressive policy think tank, argues that the government must go beyond the commitments made in the housing white paper if it is to meet the challenge of building a million plus homes that was promised in both the Conservative and Labour manifestos.

Three years on from the Lyons Housing Commission, following the publication of the government’s housing white paper, the original members of the Commission, alongside those closely associated with it, revisit the challenges facing the housing market and publish What more can be done to build the homes we need?

Michael Lyons urges the government to go further, and to implement bold measures that could promote an increase in the supply of new homes to meet demand. He argues that the political parties remain too strongly wedded to owner-occupation and there needs to be recognition that we cannot provide the number of homes needed without building homes of all tenures. He also makes the case for a more fundamental review of the greenbelt, pointing out that “in no other area would a policy fixed in 1955 be considered untouchable in perpetuity.”

The book includes essays from:

  • Malcolm Sharp, member of the Lyons Housing Commission, on the role of land and planning. He argues for stronger measures to make sure that land with planning permission is brought forward swiftly for housing development;

  • Mark Clare, former CEO of Barratt Homes and member of the Lyons Housing Commission, on the role of the private housebuilders. He proposes driving the current housebuilders harder, to deliver an industrial strategy for housebuilding and increase the number of SME housebuilders;

  • Michael Lyons and Caroline Green, chair of the Lyons Housing Commission, write about giving older people’s housing a higher priority in public policy to benefit the young. They argue for prioritising government investment and public land to deliver housing for older people, as well as ensuring there is more attractive rental offer for older people;

  • James Bailey, PwC, writes on the potential contribution of local authorities. He argues for the establishment of a new generation of housing development companies and ‘bespoke agreements’ to allow local authorities to borrow more in exchange for a commitment to build more homes;

  • Bill Hughes, Head of LGIM Real Assets, looks at the bigger contribution that could be made by the build to rent sector and proposals to support it, including simplifying VAT, improving the planning environment and encouraging capital investment.

Sir Michael Lyons, Chair of the Lyons Housing Commission, said:

“The housing market is broken. That is the stark conclusion of the government’s white paper published in February 2017. Few would disagree, and the impacts are clear for all to see.

“Both the white paper and Labour and Conservative manifestos offer wide agendas and suggest they would be willing to promote an approach to housing in order to ‘make Britain a country that works for everyone’.

“This book of essays supports that ambition and urges the government to go further, proposing some bolder solutions than those currently on offer.”

Luke Murphy, IPPR Senior Research Fellow, said:

“With both Labour and the Conservatives promising large numbers of new homes in their manifestos there is now a consensus in parliament for radical action and a comprehensive plan to fix Britain’s broken housing market.

“This collection of essays offers new ideas that all parties should consider to deal with one of the most pressing problems and most daunting targets presented for the new parliament.”

Sandra Dowling, PwC Partner, said:

"Housing is one of the most important problems facing us today, with implications for young people and future generations.

"Despite these uncertain times, the government must tackle some of the fundamental challenges that the housing market faces in order to make the step change in delivering the homes that we need today and in the future.

"We’re delighted to support this essay collection and hope it will make an important contribution to how we can all play our part in tackling our housing challenges."

Bill Hughes, Head of LGIM Real Assets, said:

“The housing white paper has recognised the importance of attracting new business models to the sector to help contribute to UK housing supply. Particular attention has been given to the benefits of an institutional-backed, purpose-built rental sector.

“Supporting those investors with a long-term view allows for the development of a more sophisticated rental sector that champions the rights of residents; family-friendly leases is just one example of how the interests of long-term investors and residents are aligned to provide social good.

“Although there is clear support from the Government, plenty of capital ready to invest and a well-defined business model, BTR still requires more supportive planning and taxation regimes. This report offers its ideas on how the Government could help remove these barriers, which could support the sector’s expansion and unlock the supply of over 1 million new homes for the UK.”


Editor’s Notes:

  1. Copies of the report What more can be done to build the homes we need? can be found here.

  2. Copies of the 2014 report Mobilising across the nation to build the homes our children need can be found here.

  3. Copies of the 2017 white paper “Fixing our broken housing market” can be found here.

  4. The editors would like to thank LGIM Real Assets and PwC who provided support for the collection.

  5. IPPR aims to influence policy in the present and reinvent progressive politics in the future, and is dedicated to the better country that Britain can be through progressive policy and politics. With nearly 60 staff across four offices throughout the UK, IPPR is Britain’s only national think tank with a truly national presence.

    Our independent research is wide ranging and covers the economy, work, skills, transport, democracy, the environment, education, energy, migration and healthcare among many other areas.

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