Housing in crisis

The exact figure may be disputed, but no-one disagrees with the scale. The UK needs around 240,000 new homes a year to meet current demand. In the 2014-15 financial year 124,520 new homes were completed in England. In his first budget of the new Parliament, the Chancellor brought in new measures to change that – followed up later in the week by the Business Secretary – giving developers “automatic permission” to build on previously used sites, and the government the power to impose a plan for housing on councils that have failed to create their own. And after months of resisting pressure to set targets in the run up to the May General Election, Housing Minister Brandon Lewis has said within the last month that he would like to build one million new homes before the end of the current Parliament. Industry reaction has been clear – the ambition is welcome but delivery is key, especially as the newly-launched National Infrastructure Commission won’t include housing within its remit. Among other priorities, better planning is important for unlocking supply, with resourcing local authority planning departments adequately and reconsidering the green belt both put forward as possible solutions.