Conservative Party Conference Housing Considerations
By Jon Power
Early yesterday, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid took to the stage at the Party Conference in Birmingham with a clear message: “It’s time to get building.” Addressing the Party Members, Mr Javid stated that the 170,000 homes built last year were simply not enough to meet the critical demand in the UK and went on to say that “We have a responsibility to build more houses, a responsibility not just to our constituents but to the next generation.”
Also, in his speech, Mr Javid announced:
• A £3 billion ‘Home Building Fund’;
• £2 billion in borrowing to facilitate “Accelerated construction”;
• Additional proposals will be made in a new Housing White Paper to be published later this year.
As ever, the level of detail in these announcements is limited at this stage; however the Secretary did say that the £3 billion Home Building Fund would be used to provide loans to stimulate construction and see the construction of 25,000 new homes by 2020. The £2 billion ‘Acceleration Fund’ aims to deliver housing on publicly owned brownfield sites, seeking to encourage developers to build at least 15,000 homes by 2020.
Later in the Conference, the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, underlined the Government’s house building agenda, stating that “the Government is determined that the dream of new home ownership should be for the many, not the few.”
The Chancellor announced that his predecessor’s target of eliminating the deficit by the end of this Parliament would be placed on hold in favour of prioritising spending on new homes - including the borrowing of £2 billion to speed up the construction and delivery of new housing.
The Chancellor also placed emphasis on closing the gap between London and other major cities across the country. Narrowing this gap is critical to the UK’s future, however, the Chancellor noted that reducing this economic disparity is not only reliant on driving the Northern Powerhouse, but supporting growth in other regions, with specific mention of a ‘Midlands Engine’.
It is clear from the tone of the Conservative’s address that house building remains right at the top of their agenda during this Parliament - with the ultimate aim to stimulate the development of at least 200,000 new homes per year to meet the Government’s overarching target of delivering 1 million new homes by 2020. In the coming weeks and months, it will be important to monitor how the Government’s growth initiatives are fleshed out at a practical level and to understand how the Government will generate the momentum to deliver this agenda with the backdrop of our impending ‘Brexit’.