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Unanswered questions and disconnected policies highlight housing issues – Pike

by: Richard Pike, sales and marketing director at Phoebus Software
  • 11/12/2019
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Unanswered questions and disconnected policies highlight housing issues – Pike
You get the feeling that only lip service is being oaid to housing policy, yet it is something that affects and is important to most people.


If not ourselves, we are likely to have children and grandchildren that will struggle to get their own house without some really lateral and creative thinking in this hugely important policy area.

On 14 June 2017 the Grenfell disaster cost 72 people their lives.

It took nearly two years for government to come up with a £200m fund to replace the combustible cladding nationally that is attributed to being one of the main causes of the tragedy.

As at June 2019, it was reported that over 200 tower blocks are still awaiting the removal of the same type of cladding.

When you think that after two years people are still living in unsafe accommodation and the speed of change needed across general housing policy, it is clear that the steer of current housing policy change is more akin to an oil tanker than a yacht.

But if a political party is willing to commit to the changes required and grab the housing issue by the horns, it may be a vote winner.


Dream of homeownership

Supply and demand in the housing market continues to be an issue. While many lenders are doing their best to encourage house sales, the lack of supply in some areas still keeps housing stock at prices that are unaffordable to many.

This means the rental sector remains healthy, but results in rents becoming less affordable as demand increases.

If you look at rental price increases nationally it is interesting to note the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found in the 12 months to Sept 2019, rental increases in London and the South East were lower than regions such as the East Midlands, Yorkshire and the South West.

At school, we learned about rural to urban migration that improved people’s wealth and prospects.

There could now be a larger trend the other way as people look to relocate to areas where the cost of living is lower and they can either have a lengthier but less stressful commute, or where they feel the long term prospects of the region are good enough to “give it a go”.

The mindset of “I come from here and therefore I have a right to be housed here” is, for many, unattainable now.


Addressing the homelessness disconnection

There is a backdrop to this of under-utilisation of empty housing stock across the UK.

We have all noticed the increasing numbers of homeless people living on the streets of many towns and cities, with London alone having an estimated 170,000 people without a place to call “home”.

Whatever the reasons for homelessness,  the number of empty homes across the UK now stands at over 200,000 and actually increased year-on-year between 2017 and 2018.

There is a massive disconnect somewhere that needs to be addressed, and government should be doing more in this area.


Questions unanswered

Housing minister Esther McVey recently stated that modular construction is a way of getting more houses built and quickly.

She has specifically mentioned a “green housing revolution” but it is reported this initiative will only create just over 2,000 new homes of this type across the country.

While this may work in social housing, for private homes will lenders accept these properties as security? Will insurers insure them under normal terms and will securitisation vehicles accept them as satisfactory construction types?

All of these questions are yet to be properly answered.


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