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Housing experts 'disappointed' with loose commitments in Queen's Speech

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Despite a commitment from the government to “ensure more homes are built” housing experts have called the Queen’s Speech “disappointing”.

Many of the reforms contained in the housing white paper, published earlier this year, can still go ahead without new legislation, though.

While the briefing notes attached to the Queen’s Speech contained two pages on housing, there was little detail about what, exactly, the government intends to do to increase the number of homes being built on an annual basis.

As a result there is concern about how committed the government is to tackling the housing crisis.

Melanie Rees, head of policy at the Chartered Institute of Housing, said: “It’s clear what the government’s priorities are at the moment [Brexit]…

“We have been saying [the housing crisis] has been generations in the making and it is going to affect generations to come if we don’t get it right so in that respect it [the Queen’s Speech] is disappointing.”

She said the themes outlined in the notes attached to the Queen’s Speech - freeing up more land for new homes, speeding up building through modern construction methods, and diversifying those who build - summarised the white paper’s approach.

One of the key reforms proposed in the white paper included plans to introduce a standardised approach to assessing housing requirements.

While there was no specific mention of that in the Queen’s Speech, Ms Rees said such measures were not necessarily “off the table” as they could be delivered through regulations rather than primary legislation.

Neil Clarke, chair of the District Councils’ Network, called on the government to help councils build more homes “through the development and implementation of secondary legislation at the earliest opportunity”.

This included changing the National Planning Policy Framework “to encourage an expansion of the type and tenure of new homes to meet need” and allowing councils to retain 100% of the receipts from properties sold under the right-to-buy. Councils should also have longer than three years – the current limit – to spend those receipts, he said.

In addition, Cllr Clarke wanted the cap on the amount councils can borrow for housing lifted.

Many of those requests were echoed by Martin Tett (Con), Local Government Association housing spokesman. While the inclusion of housing in the Queen’s Speech indicated it was still being treated “a priority” Cllr Tett said it would “require the government to go much further than the implementation of the housing white paper reforms” if more homes are to be built.

Cllr Tett said he also wanted to “hear more” about the council housing deals, which were outlined in the Conservative manifesto. These deals would see a proportion of the social homes built sold after 10 to 15 years, with the tenant receiving the first right-to-buy on that property. Money raised from sales would to be reinvested in building more social housing.

While £1.4bn from the affordable homes programme budget was to be made available for these deals, LGC previously reported how concerns were raised about the lack of impact that funding would have.


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