NEWS: Radical overhaul of housing system and new Climate Change Committee-style body key to ending ‘corrosive’ housing crisis, coalition says
Decades of piecemeal, short-term, party political approaches to housing policy have deepened the housing crisis, harming our health and well-being and stunting social and economic growth, the Archbishop of Canterbury […]
Category: Housing supply
Published: 23 Apr, 2024

Decades of piecemeal, short-term, party political approaches to housing policy have deepened the housing crisis, harming our health and well-being and stunting social and economic growth, the Archbishop of Canterbury and leading housing experts say today in a report calling for a long-term vision to be hardwired into policymaking structures for housing in England.

Homes for All: A Vision for England’s Housing System was developed by a coalition of the Church of England, the Nationwide Foundation and leading housing experts. It calls on policymakers, and the entire nation, to galvanise around a core long-term strategy which will provide affordable, safe, secure and quality homes for all.

The coalition also says government must legislate for a body, modelled on the current Climate Change Committee, to provide the independent scrutiny and technical expertise which are key to transforming housing and housing policy in England.

Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Revd Justin Welby, who will launch the vision in the House of Lords on April 23rd, said: Everyone should have a home that is comfortable and safe, and in a thriving community where they can flourish. But for many people in England, home means something very different. It is somewhere that is often expensive or temporary, insecure or unhealthy. These problems are blighting the lives and futures of millions of people, and we all have a moral responsibility to put it right.

“We must end the short termism that is having a corrosive effect on our society and our economy. We can do this by agreeing a single vison of what a real home means and by creating a national housing body, akin to the Climate Change Committee, to help deliver that vision and transform England’s housing system.”

The Homes for All vision was originally developed through extensive consultation with key housing stakeholders, including policy leads, industry experts and charities within the housing sector. The report and outcomes were produced by Professors Alex Marsh and Ken Gibb from the UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence and former National Housing Federation CEO David Orr, one of the Archbishop’s Housing, Church and Community Commissioners.

Interim Nationwide Foundation CEO Samantha Stewart said: “Homes are the foundations for our lives. We need to stop fixing the cracks in this piecemeal fashion. By overhauling our housing system with a long-term vision, and the means to follow through on it, we can restore the solid base that our society is built on.”

The vision, also supported by the New Economics Foundation, Crisis, the National Housing Federation, the British Property Federation, the Chartered Institute of Housing, the Centre for Policy Studies and the Housing Forum, amongst others, aims to inspire policy ambition and focus by filling a key gap in England’s housing discourse and defining what we mean by ‘good homes’, an ‘effective housing market’, a ‘well-functioning housing system’ and ‘effective housing policy-making’. It sets out a total of 25 key outcomes for England’s homes, housing market, housing system and housing policy, and says:

  • People will live in homes of high minimum standards that give them stability and security, are adaptable and suitable for different housing requirements
  • People will have genuinely affordable decent housing choices open to them throughout their life course, regardless of their household type or size
  • The different parts of the housing system – from rental sector to construction and social housing – will work together rather than against each other
  • Housing will complement other vital systems like health care, social care, finance and social security.

The report highlights the depth and scale of the current housing crisis:

  • An all-time high of 104,510 households living in temporary accommodation in March last year (including 65,000 households with children).
  • A backlog of 657,020 new homes.
  • A minimum of 271,000 people recorded as homeless in England on any given night in 2022.
  • A waiting list for local authority social housing estimated at 1.21 million households on 31st March 2022.
  • People locked out of home ownership and deepening wealth inequality

The report says that work to deliver the systemic change needed to address these issues will take until 2050 but must start now, and highlights some immediate priorities for the next Parliament:

  • Delivering on the well-established supply target of at least 300,000 new homes each year.
  • Ensuring a maximum of 50,000 households are in temporary accommodation at any one time.
  • Improving affordability and quality standards of our homes by the end of the Parliament to ensure that:
  • No more than one in twenty households lives in a home that does not meet the Decent Homes Standard.
  • No household on average income or below has to pay more than 35% of their disposable income on direct housing costs to secure a home of an acceptable standard.

The Homes for All Vision outlines the need for both a Housing Strategy Committee (modelled on the existing Climate Change Committee) to provide annual reports to Parliament on progress and to hold the government to account.

A delivery body is also needed to help turn the vision into reality. It would work across different types of housing tenure and with local authorities to provide greater coherence and coordination of implementation of housing policy. The vision suggests that giving it access to powers similar to those of the New Town Development Corporations of the 1960s and 1970s, would mean it could help overcome barriers to delivery of new housing and enhance the holistic development of new communities.

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