However, a radical new report entitled, “Green, pleasant and affordable” claims that the growth of the buy-to-let market in recent years has prevented two million families from becoming homeowners and calls for government action to stop people buying homes as an investment by abolishing tax relief for landlords and clamping down on overseas buyers.
Conservative Think Tank, Onward, recently issued its first report, which lobbies for a fundamentally new approach to increasing housing supply aimed at reversing fifteen years of falling homeownership and encouraging developers and councils to build the kind of homes that Britain needs.
Their 10-point plan offers a new approach to improving supply by increasing the powers given to councils to buy land to develop new villages and towns and recommends building discounted housing which prioritises young people with families in the immediate development vicinity.
The report also significantly noted that France has built twice as many homes each year as Britain since 1970 - a total of 7.8 million more. As a result, house prices in France have risen at only half the rate they have in the UK, while rents are also significantly lower.
The new report also comes at the same time as Sir Oliver Letwin MP published an independent review, commissioned by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, looking at the cause of the gap between housing completions and examining what can be done to speed up the slow rate of house building on major sites.
Letwin’s review warns that developers are slowing the system down by limiting the number of new built homes that are released for sale at any one time, a practice known as the ‘absorption rate’ that is designed to prevent a glut of new built homes driving down prices in the local market. However, the report suggests that by increasing the choice of design, size and tenure of new homes, developers could increase build out rates without impacting on the local market.
The review also suggests that a shortage of British bricklayers will have a “significant biting constraint” on the Government’s plans to boost the number of new homes built from 220,000 a year to 300,000 and called for an extra 15,000 bricklayers to be trained during the next five years.
Letwin’ review echos the findings of a recent report from the Federation of Master Builders which found that 58% of firms are currently struggling to hire bricklayers; 55% are having trouble hiring carpenters and joiners; and 40% are finding it difficult to hire plumbers.