What the government can do to solve the ongoing housing crisis

As we progress into 2024 and edge closer to the impending general election, the nation is waiting patiently to hear what the government will do to solve the ongoing housing crisis.

With an increasing population, more homes need to be built, as our society expands - however, the reality is the opposite and housebuilding is decreasing.

The most recent figures show that only 28,620 new homes were started in July-September 2023 – the lowest level in almost 12 years. 

Ahead of the general election, rumours of new schemes to help people get onto the housing ladder are circulating. One of the most recent was 99% mortgages, a proposal that would have enabled those with just a 1% deposit to get onto the housing ladder. 

However, as with other ideas like this, it was met with opposition and quickly scrapped ahead of the Spring Budget, with fears around those purchasing these homes falling into negative equity should their house prices drop and putting them into debt that they could not afford to repay. 

Unfortunately, it feels like another ill-thought-out scheme to help combat the difficulty of purchasing a home without addressing the key issue that would help to make houses more affordable – a lack of supply. 

What we need to do is combat one of the key obstacles to building more homes quickly – planning permission.

In a report released in January 2024 by the Home Builders Federation (HBF), the top two barriers to the growth of SME builders were related to the planning process. The report revealed that, 93% stated that ‘delays in securing planning permission or discharging conditions’ was a major barrier and 90% stated it was the lack of resources in Local Planning Authorities (LPAs).  

We need to overhaul the current system to rectify these issues. Without this, we cannot meet the demand for new homes. 

Developers are already faced with other issues stalling building work, such as rising costs and supply chain issues, which are often dictated by external factors. Therefore, we must address issues that we can control to speed up the current lengthy process. 

If we can resolve this issue and build homes in a timely manner, it will increase supply across the market, making homes more accessible. 

It's vital that while the market is recovering, we try to overcome the hurdles to building more homes. 

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