Government launches Housing White Paper

The government claims it will fix Britain’s “broken housing market” by promoting affordable house building and cheaper rents, in a Housing White Paper set to be published later today.

The report said the government will update its national planning policy to make starter homes available to households with an income of less than £80,000, or £90,000 for London.

The government also said it will expand its 2016-21 affordable homes programme – originally set up to promote shared ownership properties – to include rent to buy homes.

A statement from the Department for Communities and Local Government said: “Now we have opened up the programme, relaxing restrictions on funding so providers can build a range of homes including for affordable rent.”

The DCLG statement adds that the Government will consult on letting developers offer cheaper rental properties alongside other affordable housing.

The government also says it will change planning rules to let councils  “proactively plan for more long-term build to rent homes”.

The Housing White Paper will also include plans to encourage longer-term tenancies.

A DCLG statement said: “We are working closely with the British Property Federation and National Housing Federation to ensure that these longer-tenancies become widely available.

The statement added that councils and developers must avoid “building homes at low density” and should build high-rises where there is a land shortage or in places close to public transport links.

The government also wants more building on brownfield land.

The white paper will include plans to change planning policy to favour brownfield developments, as well as plans to increase population density in high-demand areas.

It will also point out that the government will try to build the right homes in the right places by consulting on setting up a system to calculate housing demand.

This will involve every local authority drawing up a plan and reviewing it every five years.

The DCLG statement said: “Currently 40% of Local Planning Authorities do not have an up to date plan that meets the projected growth in households in their area.

“Fixing this will help make sure enough land is released for new homes to be built in the parts of the country where people want to live and work and ensure developments take heed of local people’s wishes, while continuing with maximum protections for the green belt.”

The DCLG will also speed up the house building process by making it easier for councils to issue completion notices.

This is intended to shorten the timescales to require developers to start building within two years, not three, when planning permission is granted.

The government is also demanding more transparency from developers on how quickly they can build new homes to “help address the serious and growing gap between the number of planning permissions granted and the number of new homes completed”.

The Housing White Paper will also include plans to support smaller independent builders.

Communities secretary Sajid Javid said: “The housing market in this country is broken and the solution means building many more houses in the places that people want to live.

“Today we are setting out ambitious proposals to help fix the housing market so that more ordinary working people from across the country can have the security of a decent place to live.

“The only way to halt the decline in affordability and help more people onto the housing ladder is to build more homes.”

The government says it will introduce its lifetime Isa in April this year, providing borrowers a 25% top-up on up to £4,000 of savings a year, which can be used for house deposits or withdrawn at 60.

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