The Economic Affairs Select Committee of the House of Lords in its report published 15th July 2016 “Building more homes” (attached) has stated that the Government's target of one million new homes by 2020 will not be enough. 300,000 homes each year must be built to tackle the housing crisis.
This is one of the most important post-Brexit reports on housing. The committee quotes Brandon Lewis (March 2016) "....we have not built enough homes in this country for many decades. We want to deliver homes across all tenures." As London Forum has pointed out, that ambition was made more difficult by the Housing and Planning Act's introduction of 'Starter Homes' for purchase as a priority, being mandatory for part of every brownfield site, plus the enforced sale of social rented homes.
The committee opened its report's introduction with an extract from a Times' leader in , "It is essential to have not only more houses, but more houses of the required type in the right place. Housing has not yet achieved the place of priority in official policy that would be justified both by the social suffering involved and by the public concern that has been aroused." Another Times' article extract from almost forty years ago is included in the report's section 'Same old problems?' - "....there has been too much official action in the housing sphere that set out to help one category of householder, but turned out to cause new distortions in the wider pattern of housing provision … The general tendency of such policies has had the effect of assisting those who are already satisfactorily housed at the expense of those who are not." The executive summary of thePeers' report echoes those points for today: "The Government is primarily focused on building for home ownership, neglecting housing for affordable and social rent."
The Select Committee has a key recommendation that "The Government must ensure local authorities who wish to build social housing have access to the funds to do so. The current restrictions on the ability of local authorities to borrow to build social housing are arbitrary and anomalous. Local authorities should be able to borrow to build social housing as they can for other purposes."
The report calls also for local authorities to be given the power to intervene when developments are not completed within a set time period.
London Forum's member societies should call their MP's attention to this House of Lords' report and ask them to take up the criticisms and recommendations with the Prime Minister and Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, the new Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and his Ministers Rt Hon Mark Francois MP and Brandon Lewis MP and the Under-Secretary of State for Local Government, Marcus Jones MP. On Parliament's web site the background, evidence and recommendations of the Economic Affairs Select Committee's report 'Building more homes' are at http://bit.ly/29JNkHj
Another Lords Select Committee report, 'Building better places', published following extensive research in 2015, should be read with the report above. It is by the National Policy for the Built Environment Committee and is at http://bit.ly/1Ebt9Km
London Forum will be discussing these proposals of the House of Lords with Deputy Mayors and officers at the GLA, with the Commons CLG Select Committee and relevant All-Party Parliamentary Groups.
Peter Eversden MBE, London Forum of Amenity and Civic Societies