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Breaking News: Conservative Party Conference special

News_Heather Spurr

Housing took centre-stage at the Conservative Party conference this year, as new Communities Secretary Sajid Javid unveiled £5bn in funding for housebuilding. The £3bn Home Building Fund and £2bn for ‘accelerated construction’ were welcomed by housing associations, with the G15’s David Montague praising the tone of “determination and ambition” displayed by ministers.

The Conservative conference in Birmingham had a new optimism in the air, with social landlords and housebuilders optimistic that the sector could just about hit the government’s one million homes target. David Thomas, chief executive of housebuilder Barratt Developments, said: “I think it’s likely at November this year we [England] will be at 200,000 homes, in terms of net additions.” That’s up from 170,690 last year and from 121,200 in 2011.

Perhaps one of the biggest reasons for this optimism was the government’s focus on supply rather than tenure. Theresa May said in her closing address the “honest truth” was “we simply need to build more homes”. Gavin Barwell, the housing minister, demonstrated a willingness to be flexible over the Shared Ownership and Affordable Homes Programme, and even indicated there could be more capital funding for submarket rent. “I am a man in need of allies,” he told attendees.

In another sign that ministers are willing to listen to the sector, Mr Javid announced a Housing White Paper, expected to be published around the Autumn Statement. It appears now is a very good time to be speaking to government.

Heather Spurr
Senior reporter, IH

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Will the £5bn housebuilding injection help the affordability crisis in the UK?

Terrie Alafat, Chief Executive, CIH

The evidence that more and more people are struggling to afford a place to call home seems to grow by the day and it is mirrored in public perception. CIH’s research with Ipsos Mori showed 79 per cent of people believe young people will not be able to access a home they can afford, even if they work hard and have a good job.

It all points to one thing - we have to build more homes. In fact we need to build around 250,000 homes per year if we are to really get to grips with our housing crisis. We are currently nowhere near this level of building. 

Though there are encouraging signs that the new housing minister understands the need for new homes of all tenures, the government’s house building programme remains too narrow in its focus on building new homes for first-time buyers.

The problem is not just that we’re not building enough homes for first-time buyers; it’s that we’re not building enough homes that people can afford for purchase or rent.

For 25-30 per cent of people in the UK owning a home is simply not a realistic prospect and our housing strategy must reflect this. Too many, particularly younger people, are finding themselves priced out of buying a home and left with no alternative but to grapple with increasingly expensive private rents.

In this session we will look at what affordable housing truly means and how we can meet the challenge of delivering the homes we need

Terrie Alafat, Chief Executive
CIH

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  • "I really enjoyed the Homes 2015 conference and in particular finding out from others what they are doing to support women wanting careers in construction. In November I would like to see whether the government is prepared to invest in new affordable rented housing post-2018 as well as housing for sale"
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