Chancellor George Osborne told parliament today that the housing budget will be doubled to £2bn a year.
He said this would fund 400,000 new affordable homes by the end of the decade – “affordable to buy, not just to rent,” he said.
John Healey MP, Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Minister for Housing and Planning, said: “If hot air built homes, then Conservative Ministers would have our housing crisis sorted. A matter of weeks ago the Housing Minister promised a million more homes, now George Osborne is saying they’ll build 400,000 more.
“Rather than rate them on what they say they will do, people will judge them on what they’ve actually done. George Osborne’s first act as Chancellor in 2010 was to slash housing investment by 60%, and his plans today could still mean 40% less to build the homes we need compared to the investment programme he inherited from Labour.
“The Tories’ housing record speaks for itself. The lowest peacetime level of housebuilding since David Lloyd George was prime minister in the 1920s, home ownership fallen year-on-year to the lowest level in a generation, and alongside the lowest number of genuinely affordable homes built in two decades, the number of affordable homes to buy halved since 2010.
“On housing, the Tory record is five years of failure on every front. Bluster about big housebuilding figures simply won’t cut it when people have seen the country’s housing crisis get worse with Osborne as Chancellor.”
Rob Clifford, executive director at property services provider, Shepherd Direct – which includes advisory firm, Moneyquest, and estate/lettings agent franchisor, CENTURY 21 UK, said: “Clearly the major issue confronting the UK housing market is lack of supply at present and therefore it is very positive to see the Government upping its commitment to getting more homes built, especially of the affordable variety. The Help to Buy scheme has been an undoubted success since launch and therefore the expansion of Help to Buy: shared ownership should boost this important part of the market. The commitment to build 400,000 ‘affordable homes’ will make a huge difference if these figures can be achieved, however we have to ensure the land is available and that house builders across the country have the resources in order to make this happen. Unfortunately, this can be a slow process and, even with a strong tail wind, there could be major issues with getting these types of homes and developments built within the timescale the Government wants.
“Of course, the housing market is not just one of home-ownership. Even with ‘affordable options’ and discounts provided to purchase, there will still be many individuals who are unable and or simply unwilling to purchase. This is where the private rental sector also needs to be supported and we are heavily involved in a project where we let and manage up to 6,000 new-build rental homes currently being built. There is a balance that needs to be achieved between home-ownership and delivery of quality private rental homes and it is positive to see the Government willing to support both sides of this housing coin.
“As with all these schemes and announcements, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating, and if these targets can be achieved then the UK housing market will be going some way to filling the gap that exists. Increasing supply remains key if we are going to have a UK housing market fit for purpose and therefore I suspect this type of commitment will need to be grown and developed over the years ahead if we are going to keep up with demand.”