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Industry reaction to the Housing White Paper

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The details of the Government’s Housing White Paper have been speculated on for some time, and with the publication finally unveiled by DCLG secretary of state Sajid David today, the industry has been quick to react to affordable housing, long-term tenancy and supply measures.

Here is a round up of industry thoughts.

BSA head of mortgage policy Paul Broadhead

“A housing market that meets the needs of all must include a mix of tenures; recognising renters’ needs as well of those aspiring to buy makes far more sense than making home ownership the single priority.

“However you cut it, we don’t have enough homes in the UK.  The causes are complex, so it is good to see a White Paper which recognises this, but we look forward to receiving more detail in the coming weeks and months.

“It is encouraging to see the Government pledge support in today’s White Paper for offsite construction, in particular Modern Methods of Construction(MMC) as we have called for.  A cross-party approach is needed to practically deliver this.

“It’s time to turn plans into action. We will continue to work closely with government to help provide more UK homes and ‘fix’ the broken housing market.”

Legal & General Home Finance managing director Steve Ellis 

“It is disappointing to see no mention of support for older homeowners in today’s Housing White Paper, particularly given the recent speculation about support for downsizers. Moving property in later life is a path that many people consider in their plans as a means of accessing cash for retirement, but without support high stamp duty costs and a lack of suitable properties will continue to make it difficult to move.

“It is vital that the market now works to raise awareness of the many other options open to older homeowners to help them plan their retirement. Whether it’s a lifetime mortgage or refinancing an existing loan to help free up more cash, as downsizing continues to be a difficult option, older homeowners approaching retirement would be prudent to take a more holistic view of their assets and speak with an adviser to find the right solution for a happy, financially stable retirement.”

Your Move head of Lettings Valerie Bannister

“As it stands, the PRS does not have a ‘one size fits all’ option to meet the needs of both renters and landlords. A mix of tenancy options such as the three-year tenancy are needed in order to answer to the growing number of people who will benefit from consistent, affordable, medium term housing which allow them to plan for the future. Three year tenancies will also benefit landlords as they can avoid the uncertainty of unoccupancy and extended void periods. However, this shouldn’t detract from the absolute need for shorter term contracts, which offer tenants greater flexibility if they are looking to move to a new property or area for a brief period of time.

“There is nothing to prevent longer tenancies becoming the norm much sooner – in cases where this fits both the tenant’s and the landlord’s needs. We have seen tenants rent the same property for 20 years on a rolling monthly basis which has suited both the landlord and the tenant without any formality required of a three-year tenancy. In the long term, we want to bridge the gap between renters and landlords and form trusting relationships which are in step with market needs whether a short term let or a longer tenure.”

“Although homeownership is out of reach for thousands in the UK, if the flexibility of renting can be combined with the stability and reassurance of longer residencies or suitable short term possibilities, for many, renting would be appealing for the long-term, as well as short-term option.”

London estate agent and former RICS residential chairman Jeremy Leaf

“The proposals in the White Paper sound great but we have heard it all before. Talking is all well and good but what about action – what will it actually mean for the builders, the planners, the architects, the local authorities and of course the buyers in the near future?

“The first issue when dealing with any problem is to recognise it – and we welcome the fact that the government has done that. But we now want to see a strict, verifiable timetable for delivery on all fronts. Whether it is the issues with lettings or supply or infrastructure, delivery or planning – we want to see what is going to make a difference.

‘What would be refreshing and of immense value would be to see a cross-party political agreement so we don’t see the booms and busts and stops and starts that have dogged housing policy in the past.”

HomeOwners Alliance chief executive Paula Higgins

“Increased supply must not come at the expense of quality and the government is very quiet on this point. A continued and unbalanced focus on building quantity rather than quality new-builds means we’re in serious danger of causing more harm than good with housing which is not fit for future generations. 

“A new wave of housebuilding will require ever greater scrutiny from government, and stronger regulation to tackle malpractice. The latest wave of new homes, for example, have caught buyers in a leasehold trap – leaving them with the choice of shelling out thousands for their freehold, or living in homes which are unsaleable. The entire system is broken and in desperate need of reform if we are to create a stable housing system that truly works for everyone.”

eMoov chief executive Russell Quirk

“As always, commendable that the Government should look to again address the housing crisis, but there is an all too familiar theme of ‘close but no cigar’ where today’s announcements are concerned and a real lack of ambition. Although this paper will be cautiously welcomed, much of what Mr Javid announced today was nothing but recycle rhetoric and statistics from previous announcements, and as always, the Devil will be in the doing.

“Rather than make any real steps towards a solution, today’s changes seem to only trim the fat from a system that is fundamentally broken.

“The Life Time ISA is a positive step, but the Government’s various Help to Buy schemes, regardless of what guise they come under, have had an insufficient impact in helping first-time buyers historically. So, there is no real expectation that this will be any different as it is essentially a regurgitated version of previous schemes.”

 

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