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UK must ‘grapple the nettle’ of housing affordability – Jenrick

  • 24/06/2021
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UK must ‘grapple the nettle’ of housing affordability – Jenrick
UK housing minister Robert Jenrick has said the UK must address affordability and help owner-occupiers to green their homes, in response to a report out today from the Climate Change Committee (CCC).


The CCC’s chair John Gummer, a former MP, now Lord Deben, has called out government saying that weak and delayed policies meant the UK was on track to achieve only 20 per cent of the target to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Poor quality policy included the Green Homes Grant, which was supposed to help owner-occupiers to de-carbonise their homes, but was scrapped within a year after low numbers of grants were approved. 

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme, Jenrick (pictured) said: “The Green Homes Grant wasn’t as successful as the government would have wished it. Lord Deben’s challenge is how can we design better schemes in the future, that do help owner-occupiers to do this.”

Jenrick said the UK’s planning system “isn’t working well,” and change was needed to address affordability issues.

“A country like ours should be building 300,000 houses a year if we want to tackle the affordability challenge. We want to live in a country where young people and those on modest incomes have a realistic opportunity to own a home of their own. It would be wrong of the government to shirk that responsibility. We have to grapple with these nettles,” Jenrick said.

“People do agree that the current planning system isn’t working well. It’s leading to a lot of mistrust.

“It’s perceived as being too heavily stacked in favour of big volume house builders,” he said.


Planning pain

Some planning rules may need to change to allow listed properties to make climate change adaptations, Jenrick added.

“This issue is that 80 per cent of the homes of 2050 have already been built. We do need to update the planning system to better reflect our priorities today — including the environment and net zero,” he said.

From 2025, in line with the Future Homes Standard that government is aiming to bring forward, no new home will be built in the UK unless it achieves at least 75 per cent lower carbon emissions compared to today’s new builds.

The CCC report, which covered a range of policy areas including transport, energy and food supply, picked out the Heat and Building Strategy as “urgently needed.” The strategy was supposed to have been published last summer, then was slated for spring 2021, but has not yet appeared.

Jenrick said it would be “in the public domain long in advance of COP26.”

The UK is due to host world leaders for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), in Glasgow from 1 to 12 November. 

“We are working over summer to have policy answers in place to achieve a target of 78 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2035,” said Jenrick.

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