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In the 10 years since a major housing review report warned that at least 210,000 new homes a year needed to be built in England, an average of just 115,000 have actually been built. According to the author of the original report, Kate Barker, it means that the country is now one million homes short of what was needed to adequately house its population and prevent a worsening affordability crisis. Her latest report for the Home Builders Federation says that to put this into perspective, this shortfall is now equivalent to the number of homes in Birmingham and the surrounding areas. And reducing the long term trend and gradually pricing households back into the market will now require 260,000 private housing starts per year, some three times the number completed last year and a figure achieved in only four years since World War II. Even achieving the least ambitious of Barker’s three objectives, to slow down the rate at which households are priced out of the market, would require more than 200,000 private starts per year, a figure last achieved in 1973. ‘The Barker Review was a seminal report for housing and starkly illustrated the scale of the emerging crisis. Since then successive governments have failed to pay heed and develop policies to deliver the homes the country needs,’ said Stewart Beaseley, executive chairman of the HBF. ‘Whilst the Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme is finally starting to drive demand and significantly increase supply, we start from a very low base and the shortfall is huge,’ he told the organisation’s Policy Conference. ‘As we approach a general election, we now need to see all parties committing to policies that lead to a sustained increase in house building. We have to build our way out of the crisis. Building the homes the country needs will provide the decent homes people deserve and create hundreds of thousands of jobs,’ he added. Barker told the conference that the continued shortfall in housing supply matters most to those who lose out in the battle for dwelling space. She explained that even 10 Milton Keynes would only deliver 30,000 home a year, nowewhere near what is needed. ‘At the moment the cost is falling heavily on many families in the private rented sector. It is vital to raise the rate of new supply but also to develop coherent policies to address the consequences of the supply shortfall,’ she added. Continue reading →
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