It was encouraging that in Theresa May’s speech on Monday, in which she set out her vision for what her government will focus on, housing received a significant mention.
Mrs May is absolutely right that “we need to do far more to get more houses built”. Tackling the severe undersupply of housing needs to be right at the top of the priority list for our new prime minister.
This isn’t an issue that can be kicked into the long grass, to be dealt with another day.
And so it’s equally cheering to see more momentum here. The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) select committee last week launched an inquiry into the capacity of the homebuilding industry.
It’s a sensible, rounded approach, looking at the trilogy of issues facing builders: land, skills and finance. This sort of inquiry is exactly the sort of forum needed to address the practical barriers holding us back from delivering the housing required to meet demand.
Up until now, it’s all simply taken too long. The government under David Cameron took welcome steps to improve access to land, opening up public land for housing development and pledging last winter to release enough land to build 160,000 homes by 2020. Yet a new report from the National Audit Office this week, says that it has only managed to sell land with capacity for 8,580 homes so far.
Radical improvement is needed here, and the impetus must come from the top. Momentum could be on our side, but it’s imperative that the machinations of installing a new government are not allowed to overshadow or impede progress.
Christian Faes, co-founder and CEO of LendInvest