The Government recently pledged to 'repair the dysfunctional housing market' and emphasised that 'we simply need to build more homes'. Despite the unexpected Brexit vote, there are still a number of factors such as funding, skills, land and level of affordability that affect the UK's ability to deliver a greater number of homes, including Starter Homes and affordable housing.
In October 2016 a £3 billion Home Building Fund was announced aimed at delivering 225,000 homes together with an Accelerated Construction programme funded through £2 billion of new public sector borrowing to address inconsistencies in the housing market.
The number of people employed in the housebuilding industry is insufficient to match the growing demand for housing in the UK. There may be newer, modern methods of construction resulting in earlier completion of developments but fundamentally without the workforce the demand for housing cannot be matched. There is an increasing awareness towards apprenticeships and skills development amongst schools and colleges and if developers continue to expand their workforce at an apprenticeship level the foundations for a strong labour force to cope with future demand will be established.
Affordability and Delivery
The City of Wolverhampton Council this week announced that Starter Homes are to be provided in lieu of affordable units on a 140 home scheme with 300 square metres of retail space in the city centre on the former Royal Hospital site. Although the local development plan required 25 per cent of the homes to be affordable, the Homes and Community Agency ("HCA") proposed 10 per cent of the dwellings to be Starter Homes available to first-time buyers. The HCA's proposal represents a change in the Council's standard policy approach but enables housing to be delivered at a discounted rate on a site that may otherwise not be able to provide any affordable housing.
Council House Building
The Government is also suggesting that more Local Authorities should build housing - like in the good old days! Local authorities should be able to compete with private developers. They have surplus land. They have no requirement to make profits and satisfy shareholders. They can influence the schools and colleges (to a degree) and assist in encouraging school and college leavers to take up apprenticeships in the building industry - creating attractive career prospects and transferable skills.
The welcome approach to shared ownership and increasing Starter Homes will help to tackle the housing deficit, as well as a focus on providing further apprenticeships and support for the labour industry. With new initiatives to address the market and provide both measures and solutions to the lack of housing in the UK , are we moving towards a more sustainable movement in housing delivery?
But in an age where teenagers can earn millions of pounds for playing football and the aspirations of school and college leavers are greater than ever, what will encourage the school and college leavers of today to enter into apprenticeships - as opposed to more lucrative professions involving social media, business development and working within modern and comfortable working environments with lattes and cappuccinos on tap?
This article was written by Graham Cridland and Holly Lawrence.