The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, launched the much anticipated Housing White Paper on February 8. The document was released amidst high expectations; however, it appears to lack new solutions or initiatives to tackle the nation’s burgeoning housing crisis, which remains centred on London.
On the plus side, the Housing White Paper highlights the May government’s change of focus to the lettings market, which was arguably side lined by the last government in favour of driving up home ownership numbers via the various Help-to-Buy schemes.
The paper also seeks to address the limited participation of SME builders in delivering Britain’s housing solutions, the shortage of skilled labour in the construction industry and the many perceived roadblocks in the current planning system.
We take a closer look at each of these issues below and review the suggestions put forth in the Housing White Paper.
Reviving the Rental Market
The Build-to-Rent (BTR) sector has been slow to gain traction and has in part been hampered by the constant Stamp Duty adjustments made by the ex-Chancellor. The Stamp Duty changes caught the nascent sector unawares as developers were netted by the same amendments designed to curb small scale Buy-to-Let (BTL) investors. Encouragingly, the paper discusses initiatives to attract institutional investment towards the BTR sector, highlighting the government’s change of stance on reducing the swelling Generation Rent class.