Labour pledges to “fix the housing crisis” at party conference

The Labour Party has announced its plans to end the housing crisis at its party conference in Liverpool, with leader Jeremy Corbyn pledging to “embark on the biggest home building programme in half a century.”

Shadow Secretary of State for Housing John Healey revealed the plans in more detail during his preceding speech, giving the conference his “guarantee” that the next Labour Government will do “whatever it takes to fix this country’s housing crisis.” He said: “We will set up a fully fledged housing department to lead the drive to fix the housing crisis; we will end rough sleep- ing within a parliament; we’ll control rents, end no-fault evictions, and put a stop to the tyranny of rogue landlords.” Healey added: “We’ll give first time buyers on ordinary incomes the opportunities only the rich get under the tories; and we will have councils building council housing again, building a million new, truly affordable council and housing association homes.” Two policies put forward to achieve this

are ‘Labour’s living rent homes,’ with rents to be set at a third of average local incomes, and ‘Labour’s low cost homes to buy,’ with mortgage costs set at a third of average local incomes. In addition, Healey revealed that a Labour Government would back new unions for renters, funding them in every part of the country. He also criticised the Government’s handling of the Grenfell disaster, claiming Conservative Ministers saw fire regulations as “just red tape.” Following the Shadow Housing

Secretary’s announcements, Corbyn released an “ambitious” energy plan, involving the widespread retrofitting of UK homes with insulation, plus a plan to reduce carbon emissions which he said would create more than 400,000 skilled jobs, making Britain “the only developed country outside Scandinavia to be on track to meet our climate change obligations.”


Survey reveals barriers to shared ownership adoption

The Government and the housing sector are falling short of educating shared ownership buyers, according to research from YouGov.

The survey of over 200 people that own homes through shared ownership schemes was commissioned by housing association Aster Group. It revealed barriers preventing the widespread adoption of the scheme. Among the barriers are a lack of support

and affordability. Only 14 per cent of respondents reported that they had received information about the scheme from the Government, with half relying on housing associations. Added to this, 10 per cent had grown their equity stakes, with 63 per cent of those that hadn’t citing afford- ability as the reason. And of those surveyed, 52 per cent weren’t aware that they could move between shared owner- ship properties. When asked what would make the

process easier, 40 per cent of those who had staircased (bought further shares in their property) said lower or no stamp duty on the higher ownership thresholds. A further 25 per cent said a simpler mortgage application, and 25 per cent said a better understanding of staircasing.

Despite this, 62 per cent of respondents said they were likely to recommend shared ownership to a friend or family member. However, of those who wouldn’t, 59 per cent said they found housing associations difficult to deal with, and 49 per cent said there were unexpected fees associated with buying and living in a shared ownership home.

HBA: planning applications show need for reform

Fewer planning applications were made in the year ending June 2018 compared to June 2017, as reported by The Construction Index. The House Builders Association (HBA) believes this demonstrates the need for planning reform.

Statistics released by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government showed a decline of 2 per cent in major residential planning applications, 3 per cent in minor ones, and 11 per cent in commercial applications. Efficiency in the planning system has also decreased, with fewer applications decided within the statutory 13 week period.

Statistics also show that 42 per cent of minor residential planning applications and 75 per cent of major are subject to extension of time requests, environmental impact assessments or performance agreements. According to the HBA, SME builders

are most at risk when planning is inefficient, because inconsistency, cost and delay mean they are unable to secure a pipeline of work.

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