Govt urged to tackle home ownership crisis

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A review into declining home ownership has called for an independent housing commission to increase the number of homes being built.

The Redfern Review, published today, recommends the commission champion the cause of long-term housing supply and work with the existing national infrastructure commission.

The paper says housing supply needs to be boosted and maintained for more than 20 years to cut housing shortages.

It wants the independent commission to consider the benefits of starter homes and Help to Buy on boosting home ownership.

Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association executive director Peter Williams says: “The review’s call for an standing independent housing commission is sensible. In recent years there has been a clear lack of long-term focus when it comes to housing policy with six different housing ministers since 2010 alone.

“Our data shows three-fifths of mortgage lenders feel the housing minister merry-go-round contributes to the lack of cohesive housing policy. An independent body could help address this.”

The review adds the commission should also look at the health of the private rented sector and social housing.

It also calls for cross-party deals on long-term housing targets to encourage property developers to invest.

The review was commissioned by the Labour party and led by Taylor Wimpey chief executive Pete Redfern.

OneSavings Bank sales and marketing director John Eastgate says: “The housing crisis is quickly becoming an unwelcome part of the zeitgeist for millennials, as rising prices push home ownership out of reach for so many.

“It’s a chronic issue, and one that needs wholesale solutions. Demand-side initiatives are trivial compared to the supply issue, and the Government should be collaborating to find long-term solutions to the 100,000 a year shortage of new homes built in the UK. We need homes across all tenures, building not only starter homes for first-time buyers, but also social housing and build-to-rent.”

But Aldermore group managing director for mortgages Charles Haresnape says the review underestimates the effect of not building enough houses to meet demand.

Haresnape says:Where the Redfern Review pinpoints the start of the house price boom in 1996, it is notable that in the six years leading up to the boom, annual house building numbers fell almost 25 per cent, down from 242,360 a year in 1989.

“To diminish the role that decades of housing undersupply has had on prices and a market where our own research has found that almost a quarter of respondents were not planning to ever own a house is to bypass the major issue most see in the industry.

“If there are no ‘short-term’ solutions to the undersupply of housing, it is because the problem of under-construction has not been caused over the short term.”