A major review of current housing policies has been needed for several years, and the recent green paper opens up constructive channels of dialogue and feedback, which should benefit the housing market.
However, the green paper’s proposal to expand the supply of housing has less focus on affordability than required. More innovative solutions and pragmatic strategies are needed to speed up delivery of affordable homes, while empowering vulnerable tenants and giving them a voice.
The existing stock of social housing falls very short of target, and only innovative partnerships that pool resources can build affordable homes and communities at pace. By using partnerships between public bodies and private enterprises, it’s possible to share knowledge and capital, accelerating the pace at which affordable homes are delivered.
Another method of delivering affordable homes is using the build-to-rent (BTR) model, where high-quality properties are professionally managed and offered for rent.
Focusing on renting would be in sharp contrast to the present trend of prioritising widespread home ownership. While it is a great British dream to own a home, ‘ownership at all costs’ is currently driving up demand and hiking prices to unattainable levels.
Prioritising BTR would provide a more beneficial financial return model for local authorities. It would allow them and housing associations to receive a more sustainable and stable income stream over a longer period of time than they would otherwise get from selling homes and getting an immediate profit. Additionally, by developing homes with a rental tenancy scheme, the incentive to offer homes that are higher quality and fitted with more amenities is increased, avoiding high void rates.
To deliver the affordable homes that Britain needs, there must be a further diversification of development models. A reliance upon home ownership constricts supply and inflates demand – a shift towards prioritising BTR, with opportunities for empowering residents in long-term secure tenancies, can help resolve this.