"Really, is that it?" - reactions to the government's housing white paper

 
Helen Cahill
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The document wasn't meaty enough for some (Source: Getty)

In the year that the US President signed an executive order to build a wall, UK politicians got together to write a housing paper that was lacking in concrete ideas.

There were some general indicators of where the government is going on housing, however. Here's how the property industry reacted:

On the lack of content

Shadow housing secretary, Labour MP John Healey said: "Really, is that it?"

Dan Lewis, Senior Infrastructure Policy Adviser at the Institute of Directors, said:“Having a decent stock of affordable housing is important to businesses...The government clearly recognises the scale of the problem and have put forward some useful suggestions on speeding up the planning system, but we are not convinced they can really be described as radical.

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"We sympathise with anyone trying to reform the planning system, as even minor changes provoke howls of outrage, but we needed more from this White Paper."

Paula Higgins, chief executive of HomeOwners Alliance, said: “After years of policy-making which has focused mostly on inflating demand, it appears the government is keen to tackle the UK’s chronic shortage of housing. But we need more action and fewer words. It’s difficult to see how these measures will enable the government to meet its target of 1 million new homes by 2020."

Russell Gardner, head of real estate at EY, said: “Despite raised hopes of truly radical reform, today’s white paper represents a timid response to a universally recognised housing crisis."

On build to rent

Martin Bellinger, chief operating officer at Essential Living, the first UK build to rent company, said: “There’s been growing support for build to rent largely because ministers have realised there is nearly £90bn of new money to be harvested from pension funds and institutions. Whatever ownership ambitions people have, the reality is that more people than ever are renting. Encouraging companies to build professionally managed rental communities will reduce the problem of rogue landlords and allow more homes to be built more quickly."

Nick Leeming, Jackson-Stops & Staff Chairman, said: "Today the government has thrown in the towel on Britain as a nation of home owners.

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"It would have been refreshing to see stamp duty addressed, for example a stamp duty holiday for first-time buyers to aid overall affordability."

Tom Copley, Labour's London Assembly housing spokesperson, said: "The government have indicated that they have finally woken up to the need to look beyond home ownership, with the shift in focus onto build to rent.

"But this is to attract institutional investors - and whilst the promise of longer tenancies is welcome, its bearing will be miniscule unless it is extended to existing rental properties, where the vast majority of renters actually live."

On modular construction

Mark Farmer, chief executive of Cast, said: "From a capacity building perspective there is a welcome recognition of the challenge of transforming skills development and training as well as strong support for modern, more efficient construction techniques."‚Äč

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Kieran White, managing director at Vision Modular Systems, said: “Government support for modular construction must be comprehensive and shouldn’t focus simply on capacity. Regardless of how many modules a factory can produce, there is still the problem of who will use them. If modular is to be rolled out across the UK, initiatives need to focus on boosting capacity, while also maintaining a steady rate of demand.

On encouraging small builders

Rhian Kelly, CBI Infrastructure Director, said: “It’s encouraging the government is looking at how to make it easier for small and medium-sized businesses to succeed in the market. Taking a clearer, more strategic approach to public land release will also see more bricks being laid, so we welcome the government turning its eye to this developing area.”

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