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BARKER REVIEW: 'AN IMPORTANT STEP'

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Responding to the interim report of the Barker Review on housing supply* CIH chief executive David Butler said: 'Ka...
Responding to the interim report of the Barker Review on housing supply* CIH chief executive David Butler said: 'Kate Barker's report marks an important step in trying to remove the barriers which prevent people having access to a decent home at a price they can afford.

'We are delighted that rather than focusing on the test for entry into the Euro the report recognises the importance of a properly functioning housing market in delivering community sustainability and improving individuals' quality of life.'

Barker's initial assessment of the UK housing market strongly supports the arguments made by the CIH that higher levels of affordable housing are required. The reduction in supply over the past 10 years has primarily affected those seeking affordable housing. CIH will be arguing that the Treasury's plans for Spending Review 2004 should reflect this independent assessment.

However CIH warns that past mistakes must not be repeated - as well as the number of homes provided, what is built and where is also crucially important. We have learned the lessons of concentrating all affordable housing in one place with few facilities and the emphasis now must be on delivering mixed-income communities with appropriate facilities and infrastructure.

CIH accepts that the private rented sector may have a bigger role to play particularly in meeting the needs of younger, more mobile households, but any proposals need to provide for more than just a short term gain for investors.

David Butler said: 'The delivery of more private housing through companies backed by institutional investment provides an opportunity to improve professionalism and performance in the sector as a whole. However the quality of management is critical. Financial incentives to expand the private rented sector through Real Estate Investment Trusts should be linked to appropriate management standards.'

The CIH also believes that incentives are needed to speed up the development process and to capture some of the rise in value of land when planning permission is given. Ways of doing this, either through some form of land tax or other means, need to be explored further.

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