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INDUSTRY NEWS 5


Government announces ban on combustible cladding


The Government has announced it will change Building Regulations to ban the use of combustible materials on the outside of all new build high-rise buildings, hospitals, care homes and student accommodation above 18 metres. Following a consultation on last year’s Grenfell Tower tragedy, James Brokenshire, Housing Secretary, told the Conservative Party conference that the ban will cover all combustible materials, but will not be applied retrospectively. This ban will be delivered through changes to Building Regulations guidance, and will limit materials available to products achieving a European classification of Class A1 or A2. Brokenshire said: “It’s been over a year since the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire. This unimaginable horror has rightly shocked us all and underlined the need to do all that we can to see that such a disaster cannot happen again.” He added: “My work with Grenfell United [the group of survivors and bereaved families set up following the fire] and the wider community has been hugely helpful in keeping this issue right at the top of the Government’s agenda. “That is why I will change the Building Regulations to ban the use of combustible cladding in high-rise buildings.” The new ban is intended to be brought forward in late Autumn.


May confirms removal of borrowing cap


The borrowing cap for local councils to build new housing is set to be scrapped, potentially opening up billions of pounds of funding for new council housebuilding schemes. In a move that has been long called for by many in the industry, and hinted at in previous Budgets, Theresa May announced at the Conservative Party Conference that councils will no longer be restricted when borrowing against the value of their social rent income. May criticised the current situation: “Solving the housing crisis is the biggest domestic policy challenge of our generation. It doesn’t make sense to stop councils from playing their part in solving it.” Details on when and how the cap on borrowing will be removed are expected to be announced in the Budget later this month. The Government confirmed following May’s speech that the cap would be removed “as soon as possible.”


Housing associations get £2bn


Housing associations are to receive £2bn from the Government to build low-cost homes. Theresa May told a National Housing


Federation conference that the “most ambitious” providers will be able to bid for Government money that could last them until 2028-29, with the intention being to give housing associations greater financial security.


It is hoped by the PM that the money will help remove the “stigma” of social housing, with May claiming that “many people in society – including too many politicians – continue to look down on social housing and, by extension, the people who call it their home.” She said: “I want to see social housing that is so good people are proud to call it their home...our friends and neighbours who live in social housing are not second-rate citizens.”


The money is reported to come from


housing budgets in the next spending review period.


Community Housing Fund Phase 2 launched


£163m of affordable housing funding is now available to communities across England, after Phase Two of the Community Housing Fund was launched on 17 September. Phase One of the fund launched in July, and like Phase 2, it has been launched to support applications for “capacity building,” pre-development revenue funding, and capital funding for local infrastructure projects. Phase Two bidding is now open to


eligible organisations seeking capital grants to fund the costs of acquiring land and building community-led housing schemes. Bidding is open to a range of


organisations. Local authorities and registered providers may apply on behalf of community groups to support them through this process.


Both phases are now open for bidding on what is described as a “continuous market engagement” basis via the Homes England Portal.


House price growth continues to outpace wages


The minimum income first-time buyers need in order to buy a home in the UK’s largest cities has risen by 18 per cent in the past three years, with house price growth continuing to outpace earnings in 16 out of 20 of these.


The latest Hometrack UK Cities House Price Index has revealed that first-time buyers now need to earn, on average, £53,000 to buy a home in the UK’s 20 largest cities, up 18 per cent from £45,000 three years ago. The income to buy ranges from £25,000 in Liverpool to £82,000 in London.


The index shows that house prices have risen by an average of 14.5 per cent over the last three years, whereas the Office for National Statistics report that average wages have grown by 7.5 per cent to £489 a week over the same period.


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