On 10 January 2022 the House of Lords Built Environment Committee published its report, Meeting housing demand, which concludes that the Government must address barriers to building much needed new homes. Too many people, it says, currently live in expensive, unsuitable, and poor-quality homes and housing supply needs to be increased to tackle the housing crisis now. Key points highlighted in the report include:
- The role of SMEs in the housebuilding industry has collapsed. SMEs should be supported by reducing planning risk, making more small sites available, and increasing access to finance.
- The country needs more specialist and mainstream housing suitable for the elderly.
- Uncertainty and delays to planning reforms have had a ‘chilling effect’ on housebuilding and created uncertainty for housebuilders and planners. More up-to-date local plans, simpler, clearer and more transparent, are needed. Planning departments need more resource to avert an emerging crisis.
- Skills shortages must be addressed, through broadening the base of talent, upskilling and reskilling, including for the green skills needed to address climate change. The Apprenticeship Levy needs urgent reform. The New Homes Ombudsman’s powers must be robust and adequately enforced to ensure homes are built to high standards of quality and design.
- The money spent on housing benefit should be invested in increasing the social housing stock. Right to Buy schemes are not good value for money: increasing the housing supply would be a more effective use of funding.