The communities secretary, Sajid Javid, who has the backing of reformers in the Conservative party, would like to see housebuilding boosted significantly, particularly in high-cost areas, to halt the rapid increase in property prices that is leaving many people unable to afford a home.
In the housing white paper published in February, entitled Fixing Our Broken Housing Market, the government said: “Some local authorities can duck potentially difficult decisions, because they are free to come up with their own methodology for calculating ‘objectively assessed need’. So, we are going to consult on a new standard methodology for calculating ‘objectively assessed need’, and encourage councils to plan on this basis.”
Javid hopes by adopting an expansive approach, which includes data about the local housing market, he can kickstart redevelopment in areas where prices are rising fastest. May’s resolve to tackle the problem may have been strengthened by the party’s poor showing among young people at the general election in June. A recent YouGov poll suggested that just 4% of 18-24-year-olds trust the Conservatives to deal with the issue of housing – against 44% for Labour.
Once again we see housing issues misrepresented. As has been said before housing provision is not the problem, the problem is that houses are not provided to meet housing need. As to why there are areas where house prices are high this is often the result of demand for housing for non-residential use – either for second or holiday homes or for investments including ‘buy to let’. Unless demand from these quarters can be choked off house prices will continue to rise.
Young households in particular have seen incomes squeezed (and personal debts rise) making it difficult to buy especially when they are in competition with fund rich investors and second/holiday home purchasers.
It is what supply is being used for not the total housing supply that is the problem!