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Government publishes blueprint for boosting housing supply

Week in Westminster

Published: 10 February 2017 | Author: Michelle Vosper

The government’s blueprint for boosting housing supply originally due out last year has finally materialised. As already indicated, the housing white paper confirms there has been a key shift in government policy focus away from home ownership towards a tenure neutral approach.

Much of the paper is concerned with planning issues and with policies to speed up build-out of new homes. The government is also keen to diversify sources of supply and encourage smaller and medium sized builders, and to attract institutional investment into buy-to-rent.

  • Custom build – government wants work with lenders to increase their lending in line with customer demand.  
  • Starter homes - the scheme detail is revised and the availability of starter homes is restricted to those with income below £80,000 (£90,000 in London).  The restricted period on selling the homes at full market value has been extended to 15 years, its detailed operation to be set out in regulations.  There will no longer be a requirement for new build sites to contain a 20% proportion of starter homes, but government are consulting on a lower ‘planning policy expectation’ minimum of 10% affordable homeownership provision.
  • Help to Buy Equity Loan - the government will consider the future of the scheme post 2021..
  • Ageing population – the government has committed to explore  the issues and find sustainable solutions in respect of the housing needs of our ageing population.
  • Leasehold – there will be a consultation on leasehold abuses and other issues.
  • Private renting - there is support for family-friendly tenancies of three years or more, and the ban on letting agents’ fees is re-announced.

More information is available on our website.

The Guardianship (Missing Persons) Bill introduced into the Commons recently by MP Kevin Hollinrake has passed its second reading without debate. This ten-minute rule bill, backed by the charity Missing People, would create a form of legal guardianship that will allow close relatives of a missing person to administer their financial affairs in their interests until they are found. The bill is now awaiting consideration by a public bill committee. 

We gave oral evidence to the Commons communities and local government committee this week on its inquiry on the capacity of the home building industry, along with BOPAS and the NHBC. The committee raised a number of questions on warranty schemes – why they are important to lenders, are the various schemes consistent and should they be standardised, to what extent are lenders and warranty providers working together. They were also interested in self/custom build as well as modern methods of construction in terms of the availability of mortgage finance and any issues around the accuracy of valuations for these properties.

Two Commons debates which may be of interest this week.

And last but by no means least, the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill has been was approved by MPs on its third reading in the House of Commons by 494 votes to 122 against. With the Bill now passing into the House of Lords, where the Government does not have a majority, concerns have been raised that the second chamber may vote against it. However, the BBC reports that “a government source” had stated that the Lords will face an "overwhelming" public call to be abolished if it opposes the bill.

Following several resignations in response to his decision to impose a three-line whip in support of the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill, Corbyn has conducted a mini re-shuffle. The new shadows are as follows:

  • Rebecca Long-Bailey, Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
  • Sue Hayman, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
  • Christina Rees, Shadow Secretary of State for Wales
  • Peter Dowd, Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury