A long term plan for housing
The Housing Forum is the UK’s cross-sector, industry-wide organisation that represents the entire housing supply chain. Our growing membership, drawn from over 150 organisations across the public and private sectors, share our determination to drive quality in the design, construction and decarbonisation of UK homes. They have a commitment to partnership working and share in our vision of ‘A Quality Home for All’.
We have drawn on this sector-wide expertise to set out the key policies we would like to see included in general election manifestos for 2024 to ensure that everyone can live in a good quality, sustainable and affordable home.
Poor housing quality causes homelessness, damages health and reduces opportunities in life. It contributes to carbon emissions and fuel poverty. Housing shortages make housing unaffordable and hold back economic growth as well as trapping people in poverty. Fixing our housing crisis won’t be easy – and will require a long-term strategy with upfront spending – but we believe there is a way forward.
Our three key themes are supported by all main political parties. We are calling for manifesto commitments that support delivery and action.
We are calling on all political parties to commit to a long-term plan for housing. Our vision for housing in 25 years’ time is one of sufficient housing for everyone, supported by improved infrastructure in well-designed places where communities flourish.
1. Ensure housing is at the heart of decision-making within cabinet and work across departments to make housing a top 5 Government priority.
2. Drive up housing supply with ambitious housing targets and strong incentives for local authorities to meet them, including requiring a five-year land supply, and increasing infrastructure funding to areas meeting or exceeding their targets.
3. Better resource the planning system by improving recruitment and retention, and elevating the status of planners, underpinned by a strong performance monitoring system. We need a professionalised planning service, with local planning officers trusted to determine applications that do not legally need to go to a planning committee, such as reserved matters consents.
4. Tackle nutrient pollution at source and remove the rules that prevent housebuilding in areas at risk. The Environment Agency should be empowered – and expected – to tackle the issue of pollution from farming and poor wastewater management.
5. Incentivise building on brownfield sites, with flexible and long-term funding where required to make this viable, and support for public and private sector partnerships to bring these sites forward.
6. Support local authorities to work together on strategic reviews of greenbelt land. This may involve building on brownfield sites within greenbelts and/or moving greenbelts further out to allow cities to grow.
7. Move community input into planning upstream to the plan-making stage, including the use of design codes, so that applications that are in line with local plans can proceed with more certainty.
8. Underwrite borrowing for social landlords and the Build to Rent sector, to bring down the costs of raising private finance to fund housebuilding
1. Support a cross-sector roadmap with visibility of long-term investment to achieve low- carbon targets in both new and existing homes.This should include long-term funding for social landlords to invest in their stock – improving condition, building safety and energy efficiency in a cost-effective and co-ordinated way.
2. Take forward the Strategic Spatial Energy Plan that sets out plans for how to heat UK homes, including heat networks, the future of the gas network and the big increases in electricity capacity needed to move to zero-carbon energy.
3. Reform and update the social rent formula, with rents reflecting the energy efficiency of the property, to incentivise landlords to upgrade properties.
4. Ensure that homeowners are not overlooked and are strongly encouraged to make improvements to their homes, with grants where needed.
5. Skill up the workforce to deliver and maintain the homes of the future.
6. Work with the sector to create a more reliable market for low-carbon housing, including the use of Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) to futureproof the housebuilding industry.
7. Create better incentives to upgrade and improve existing buildings by removing VAT from all forms of retrofitting, regeneration and fire safety work.
1. Create a Housing Accelerator Fund to tackle the affordable housing backlog. This would be a £4bn fund to provide 60,000 new affordable rented homes to reduce homelessness by more than half over three years and slash expenditure on temporary accommodation.
2. Commit to a long-term grant settlement for building affordable homes, with the flexibility to deliver value in changing market conditions.
3. Reform grant rates for affordable housing to a rate per habitable room in order to encourage building larger family homes where needed.
4. Improve the existing system of S106 and CIL, rather than introduce a new system that may not have the flexibility needed to deliver the most from affordable housing. This includes improving local authorities’ confidence with using CPO
5. Require a higher proportion of affordable housing via S106 on greenfield sites than on brownfield sites. This will ensure that brownfield development remains viable whilst maximising the affordable housing output of greenfield sites, which are generally easier to develop.
6. End the Right to Buy in order to preserve the current stock of affordable housing for future generations. It is particularly important to end it for new-build council housing so that councils have a stronger incentive to build.
7. Support households who aspire to homeownership but cannot afford to buy unaided. Increase the income thresholds for shared ownership, to update them in line with earnings.
8. Commit to a long-term rent settlement for the social housing sector, to help business planning and leveraging of private sector finance.
9. Renew the Community Housing Fund in order to support community-led development, self-build and custom-build.
10. Ensure that Local Housing Allowance is uprated each year to remain pegged to private rents, to ensure that low-income households can rent in the private sector.