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The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has published updated figures on house building in the United Kingdom.
These figures show that 167,700 new homes were completed between Q3 2015 and Q2 2016, below the Government’s self-imposed annual target of 200,000 necessary to achieve its ambition of building one million homes by 2020. Given that the Government uses net additions to the housing supply, it could still reach its aspiration of one million homes by 2020.
With the average UK house price rising from £168,703 in December 2010 to £219,544 in December 2016, the Government faces an uphill battle to fulfil its aspiration to deliver one million new homes by 2020.
The National Federation of Builders (NFB) and the House Builders Association (HBA) believe that the Government’s housing policies have contributed to inflating demand for housing without boosting supply.
The Housing and Planning Act 2016 focuses excessively on purchasing – rather than encouraging different types of ownership and supply – and has restricted the ability of local authorities to build new homes.
The Government does not seem intent on building on the Housing and Planning Act, as much as rewriting key areas. The Neighbourhood Planning Bill proposes to amend significant parts of the Housing and Planning Act, while the Housing White Paper looks set on diluting some of its key features.
The NFB thinks the Government ought to seize this opportunity to work with industry on practical solutions, rather than rolling out initiatives and see what sticks.
Given the disappointing house building figures, we need to ask ourselves if the publication of the Housing White Paper – coming ten months after the Act – can be seen as an admission that the Government has failed to stimulate house building.
The NFB offered the DCLG an opportunity to discuss these figures, but the DCLG declined to comment.