NHF chief David Orr: Osborne's Budget was 'a missed opportunity'
Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government
NHF chief David Orr: Osborne's Budget was 'a missed opportunity'
National Housing Federation chief executive David Orr said today's Budget didn't go far enough to meet housing demand.
Responding to George Osborne's package of new housing measures, Orr said: "We welcome the Chancellor’s focus on housing and the announcement of a new garden city, but we think the Budget is a missed opportunity.
"Measures like help to buy are likely to stimulate demand for housing but the Budget does not go far enough to boost the supply of homes needed to meet that demand.
"The Chancellor says the 23% increase in house building is not enough and we agree with him. While he has taken some steps - like a new garden city - to increase supply, we were disappointed that he did not include measures to deliver homes more quickly, at little or no cost to the tax-payer. An effective release of public land for house building, increasing the borrowing capacity of housing associations and extending government guarantees to back financing for new development, would all have made a significant and immediate boost to the supply of affordable homes.
"While the extension of Help to Buy will assist some people to buy their own home in the short term, in the long term it risks fuelling a house price bubble. The longer that the new build housing market is dependent on government intervention, the more difficult it will be for them to withdraw in future years. It will be hard for the Government to demonstrate Help to Buy will generate new homes being built that would not have already been developed. It is not the most effective way of using public investment and is far too small an amount to address the crisis.
"We welcome the announcement of the new garden city in Ebbsfleet, but it will only make a difference if it is the first of many. The new homes in Ebbsfleet must not merely replace homes that would have been built elsewhere."
Julia Unwin, chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: "This is a Budget for the people who already have, not for the people who need to benefit most from the return to growth. It is a lost opportunity for the 13 million people in poverty who need active intervention to tackle the structural barriers that keep them in poverty.
"People on low incomes are unlikely to see the welcome benefits of growth unless there is targeted help with household and housing costs, with child care and with the nature of jobs and training. The expense and inefficiency of high levels of poverty continue to put a drag on growth.”
Mike Gaskell, Manchester-based Housing and Regeneration partner at law firm Trowers & Hamlins, added: "Whilst the Chancellor's announcement about new homes in the South East is very welcome, the need for housing is a national issue. There is no indication of significant further help for the supply of affordable housing in other parts of the country, which is disappointing."
Richard Hill, CEO of Spectrum Housing Group said: "I see it as extremely positive that the Chancellor continues to see housebuilding as a key part of the economic recovery. All the evidence is that investment in building houses generates economic activity quickly.
"In terms of the specific measures, it would have been a stronger package to invest more directly in supply, including for affordable housing. Relying on a £6 billion help to buy boost to demand risks higher prices and creating a cliff edge for the industry when Help to Buy ends in 2020. Not bringing forward a matching investment in supply is a missed opportunity."
Ruth Cooke, CEO at Midland Heart, said: “We know there is a fundamental lack of housing in the UK and this years budget does little to acknowledge this fact. We need to increase housing supply - that means new flexible delivery models that enable providers like us to continue to develop much needed affordable housing for those that need it most.
“We also need greater recognition of the much broader community based, person centered role that housing providers like us offer for those in the greatest need. such as our good practice in helping people into work and fresh ideas that can support a reshaped integrated care system.”
Ed Cox, director of IPPR North, said: “Current house hunters will welcome Osborne’s announcement of an extension to help to buy, the government’s controversial scheme to support people to buy homes they could not ordinarily afford. But as the policy will add fuel to house prices the affordability crisis in parts of the London and the South East could easily spread North.
"Rather than pumping up prices of houses, the government should be building more properties that people can afford.”
Denise Hatton, chief executive of YMCA England, said: "The Chancellor openly states that his budget was one for the 'makers, doers and savers' of the country, but what about those not lucky enough to be in this position?
"YMCAs across the country help so many young people who aspire to get work and find a decent home in which to live, but who are consistently held back by a lack of available jobs and affordable housing.
"We need to see a stronger commitment from Government to address the needs of single young people if we are going to be in a position to nurture the next generation of 'makers, doers and savers' and secure the long term economic recovery that the Chancellor is looking to achieve."
Jacqui McCluskey, Director of Policy for the umbrella body Homeless Link, said: “As economic recovery builds, those hit hardest by the recession, such as people who are homeless, must be able to share in the benefits. This means not just support to get back on their feet but an affordable place to call home.
“For three years in a row, our members have said that a lack of affordable accommodation to rehouse those they help is one of the biggest challenges they face.
“We simply have not been building enough homes that are genuinely affordable, a situation that has been made worse by rising rents and welfare reforms that have made many landlords unwilling to rent to those on benefits.
“Measures to increase housing supply are welcome but are we building the right type of homes? And will supply keep pace with demand? The Government needs to take stock and look at what interventions can be made to the chronic shortage of affordable housing that many communities face.”
Jonathan Manns, associate director of planning at Colliers International, said: “Nationally, the government needs in excess of 3,000,000 new homes by 2020.
"In London, a population increase of 25% is anticipated by 2030 taking the city from 8.3 million residents to 10 million. The delivery of 15,000 homes at Ebbsfleet, in a location with existing infrastructure and planning permissions in place, therefore fundamentally fails to address the current housing crisis.
“Likewise, references to a new garden city in South-East of England will provide scant reassurance to the towns and cities of the country’s now disbanded regions which continue to face considerable challenges in delivering economic growth.
"The government’s brazen failure to confront serious questions about housing growth, green belt development and strategic matters risks delaying the recovery on the grounds of political expediency.”
The UK Green Building Council, meanwhile, criticised the Chancellor for "squandering" the opportunity to cut household energy bills with no additional measures to encourage energy efficiency in today’s Budget.
John Alker, director of policy and communications at UK-GBC, said: “Any real hope that the Chancellor is committed to the green agenda faded long ago but what remains deeply disappointing is that he doesn’t recognise a growth opportunity when he sees one. There continues to be a complete blind spot on the role that energy efficiency has to play in reducing consumer bills over the long-term, and generating home-grown jobs.
“A one-off £15 cut to household bills will be quickly forgotten – what is needed is long-term incentives to reduce the demand for energy in the first place.
“Hoped for clarity on zero carbon homes and non-domestic buildings was also conspicuous by its absence. With energy bills £800 less than the average home, you would have thought Government would want to shout about this policy from the roof-tops. Sadly, the future of Allowable Solutions still remains unclear.”