As is the case with the rest of the housing sector Ken and Tim have read with interest both the Lyons Housing Review and reaction to Sir Michael’s recommendations.
Commentaries have noted that this latest in-depth review of housing supply has been delivered only 10 years since the Barker Review was published, perhaps confirming not only how much the housing landscape has changed during that time but also how difficult it is to deliver long-term strategy on the back of short-term political power and the overriding influence of global events.
The review reinforces perhaps one of the few sector wide (political as well as provider) areas of agreement - that by 2020 or thereabouts new housing supply needs to double to circa 200,000. Effectively that requires developers, councils and housing associations to double the number of homes they are building at present. Whichever political party or parties are in power come May 2015 that target is unlikely to be achieved unless a long-term strategy, preferably with cross party support, is adopted and bought into by all stakeholders. Let’s be optimistic that a spirit of co-operation will abound, securing long-term funding pipelines, helping to deliver homes across the affordability range in all parts of the country.
Some six months away from the election the timing of the review is excellent, providing a racing chance that housing is more than an afterthought when it comes to electioneering. For instance, isn’t it gratifying that the review highlights the boost to the economy that results from increased house building, a message long promoted by both the CIH and NHF.
One final thought. The review focuses on new homes but shouldn’t all stakeholders also ensure that best use is made of existing assets. In 2013 635,000 habitable homes were identified as being currently empty in England with 845,000 as an estimated figure for the whole of the UK. These figures do not include 300,000 empty flats over shops. Empty Homes has long campaigned for the return to use of these existing properties – not a bad start in addressing the housing shortage.