Landlords are welcoming new calls by the Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, for a “giant leap” to address the housing crisis. However, the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) warns the Government that tenants cannot live in the 15 consultations currently ongoing that will affect the private rental sector.
Another consultation, on smoke and carbon monoxide alarm regulations, was announced just this week.
Javid laid down a challenge to the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, in a speech yesterday, in which he called for a “giant leap” in the number of new homes being built.
The Communities Secretary said that the lack of new homes being built was a “big problem, and we have to think big” to tackle the housing crisis. A major new package for housebuilding is now expected to be at the heart of the Autumn Budget next week.
Javid has upped the pressure on Hammond in recent weeks to spend billions of public money on new homes. His words arrive as new Government data shows that we are building fewer homes than at the start of the housing crisis.
In his speech, Javid said that far more had to be done, calling for a “Government of deeds, not words”.
Tenants can’t Live in Consultations, the RLA Warns the Government
Referring to the Budget next week, Javid insisted: “In next week’s Budget, you’ll see just how seriously we take this challenge, just how hard we’re willing to fight to get Britain building.”
Likening the housing crisis to the challenge that faced Britain in the Second World War, Javid added that the country will rise to the challenge: “Faced with the crisis of the Second World War, Churchill demanded ‘action this day’, so the country could rise to the challenge.
“And, faced with an unprecedented housing crisis, that’s what you’re going to get from this Government. Real action, day after day, week after week, to give this country a housing market that works for everyone.”
The Communities Secretary set out a multi-pronged policy assault on the housing crisis, including allowing the Homes and Communities Agency to make more public land available for new homes.
Private housebuilders will also be required to build homes more quickly, while the Government will introduce measures to train up more construction workers. Developers will also be told to build on land they own or lose it, in an end to “unjustifiable land banking”.
Javid observed: “It’s a time of national shortage and, in this kind of time, British people will not look kindly on anyone who hoards land and speculates on its value, rather than freeing it up for the homes our children and grandchildren need.”
Baby boomers who have paid off their own mortgages should not be allowed to get in the way of the construction of homes for a younger generation “crying out for help with housing”, his speech continued.
“They don’t want the world handed to them on a plate. They want simple fairness, moral justice; the opportunity to play by the same rules enjoyed by those who came before them.
“Without affordable, secure, safe housing, we risk creating a rootless generation, drifting from one short-term tenancy to the next, never staying long enough to play a role in their community.”
The comments come two weeks after Javid called for Hammond to borrow more to pay for more homes. Coincidentally, Hammond announced new powers to fund housebuilding just hours before Javid’s speech.
The plans will mean that housing associations will be reclassified as private bodies, allowing their £70 billion debt to be removed from the Government’s balance sheet.
Government sources claim that Hammond, the Prime Minister – Theresa May – and Javid were agreed on a bid to tackle the housing crisis. Their plans are set to be unveiled in the Budget next week.
However, Hammond said that there was “no silver bullet” to fixing the housing crisis.
Commenting on Javid’s speech, David Smith, the Policy Director at the RLA, responded: “The minister is right that we need a giant leap to tackle the housing crisis we now face. This is particularly the case for tenants and prospective tenants, who increasingly need a vibrant and growing private rental market for a place to live.
“The Government currently has at least 15 consultations ongoing affecting the private rented sector, none of which will boost the supply of such of homes. Whilst it is right to properly consult on proposals, no tenant can live in a consultation.”
He added: “We need immediate practical action to meet the growing demand for private rented housing in next week’s Budget, by bringing small plots of unused land into use and creating a pro-growth tax system that supports good landlords to develop the new homes we need.”
Other industry experts have also called for similar measures.