Homes England publishes five-year strategic plan

Homes England, a new non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, has published its strategic plan for 2018/19 to 2022/23.

It says the plan will “disrupt the housing market” and help more people “have access to better homes in the right places”.

Homes England was set up to accelerate the delivery of housing across England. It currently has nearly 750 full-time employees and plans to double in size over the next 18 months. It will work in collaboration with partners including local authorities, private developers, housing associations, lenders and infrastructure providers, and use land, money, power and influence to increase the pace, scale and quality of delivery.

Homes England’s objectives include unlocking and enabling land, providing investment products (including for major infrastructure), supporting the affordable housing market, and providing expert support to priority locations. It will also address the barriers facing smaller builders, support modern methods of construction, and deliver home ownership products such as Help to Buy.

Homes England chairman Sir Edward Lister says: “At the most basic level, we have not been building enough homes. This has led to soaring house prices and rising rents. Nationally, the average house now costs eight times the average income. In some places that number rises well into double digits. As a result, a whole generation can no longer afford to get on the housing ladder. We desperately need more homes in the right places, where people want to live.”

Communities secretary James Brokenshire says: “This government is committed to delivering 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s and help more people get on the housing ladder. Homes England is at the heart of these plans.”

The government aims to deliver 300,000 new homes a year on average. However, the Office for Budget Responsibility predicts that the decision to allow councils to borrow extra money to build more social housing – announced at the Conservative party conference – will result in no more than 9,000 extra homes by 2024. It said the plan will “crowd out” private sector construction as local authorities would be forced to poach skilled tradesmen from house builders.

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