Select Committee on Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Third Report

1  Introduction

1. A decent home at an affordable cost is something which everyone has the right to expect, and it is the responsibility of Government to ensure it is available.[1] The number of homes built each year has declined in most of the last 15 years, while the population and the number of households has continued to grow. The Government is seeking to address this mismatch with major proposals to increase the housing supply. We therefore considered it an appropriate time to examine Government's plans.

2. We adopted the following terms of reference for this inquiry:

  • The potential benefits of and scope to promote greater homeownership;
  • The extent to which home purchase tackles social and economic inequalities and reduces poverty;
  • The economic and social impact of current house prices;
  • The relationship between house prices and housing supply;
  • Other factors influencing the affordability of housing for sale, including construction methods and fiscal measures;
  • The scale of the Government's plans to boost housing supply;
  • The relative importance of increasing the supply of private housing as opposed to subsidised housing;
  • How the planning system should respond to the demand for housing for sale;
  • The scale of housing development required to influence house prices and the impact of promoting such a programme on the natural and historical environment and infrastructure provision, and
  • The regional disparities in the supply and demand for housing and how they might be tackled.

3. We received 101 submissions and held four evidence sessions. We would like to thank our specialist advisers, Christine Whitehead, Professor of Housing at the London School of Economics, and Richard Bate from the consultancy Green Balance, for their guidance and assistance and all those who made written submissions or gave oral evidence to this inquiry.

4. There are many definitions of affordable housing. In this report we define it as subsidised housing that meets the needs of those who cannot afford secure decent housing on the open market either to rent or buy. Social rented housing is defined as housing which is provided for rent by a local authority, a housing association or another not-for-profit organisation. Intermediate tenures are homes bought as part of a shared ownership or equity share scheme, whereby the purchaser (at least initially) buys a proportion of the equity in a home, while the remaining share is owned by a housing association or other agency.

5. As well as examining the amount of new house-building required we have also considered

  • Housing needed to meet housing requirements and aspirations;
  • How the house-building programme can be linked with urban regeneration, and
  • How the development process should be managed to ensure infrastructure is provided and the negative environmental impact is minimised.

1   This right was enshrined in the UN Declaration on Human Settlement, 1976. Back

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