National Housing Taskforce

This year we are leading a workstream on new sources of supply as part of the National Housing Taskforce, a coalition convened by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Housing and Planning and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

The taskforce was established to develop clear, workable proposals for both Government and industry to address the UK’s chronic shortage of housing. It consists of 12 work streams exploring a range of topics from planning reform to housing associations, and construction skills to mortgage finance.

The APPG has already met with the new Housing Minister, Gavin Barwell MP, to discuss matters including the taskforce.

You can read more about the taskforce on the RICS website.

New sources of supply

Our role is to lead a workstream looking at new sources of supply. It is chaired by Helen Hayes MP, with vice chairs Richard Bacon MP and Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville.

This is the timetable for our work:

The Barker Review found that housing supply has been “almost totally unresponsive” to demand since the early 1990s. A later IPPR report found that the number of housebuilders had halved since then. According to the Government, 8 builders now account for half the market. This inquiry is based upon the premise that diversifying the housebuilding industry will help to increase the overall supply of housing.

There are many new sources of supply, including SME builders, community-led housing organisations and self-builders, and a potential for a role for organisations that currently have a minimal role in direct supply (e.g. corporations, local authorities, churches, landowners).

We are interested in ways to “scale up” existing groups and companies so that they can provide more housing, and ways to “scale out” by enabling more new entrants within those sectors that currently account for a very small part of the market.

Written evidence received

On the 21st July 2016 we launched a call for written evidence, which closed on the 21st September.

We received 76 written submissions with and over 400 pages of evidence. You can view and download the non-confidential written evidence with this link.

We sought submissions addressing the following questions:

  1. Barriers and opportunities in releasing and obtaining land for housing development.
    1. Regulatory barriers or unecessary complexities when trying innovative approaches to the compulsory purchase, disposal or leasing of land.
    2. Reasons that stop landowners from releasing land for new sources of housing supply. 
    3. The planning system, and how permission in principle, local development orders and serviced plots might help.
       
  2. Finance and funding schemes that help or hinder new sources.
    1. New ways of providing access to finance for pre-development and development stages, and ways of de-risking schemes.
    2. Examples of past public and charitable funds, and the specific reasons why they did or didn't work.
    3. Mortgages and other consumer products that could support more innovation and new models.
    4. Other types of funding that would be useful, for example seed-corn grants, low interest loans and government guarantee schemes.
       
  3. Enabling infrastructure and partnerships that government can support.
    1. Examples of groups or builders being supported to start or complete a housing project by an enabling organisation or partnership, and which elements were most important.
    2. How practitioners can be supported to adopt best practice, for example with a menu of multi-disciplinary experts funded to support implementation.
    3. The benefits of local or regional partnerships, and how they can build up local knowledge and connections to implement government priorities like the 'right to build'.
       
  4. Capacity in the 'new sources' sectors
    1. Constraints on local authorities being able to engage with new sources, and how those could be overcome.
    2. Ways to build capacity in the new source sectors, either at a national, regional or local level.
       
  5. What one thing could national government do to make the most difference?

Further details about the inquiry

In addition to our chair and vice chairs, we have assembled a steering group comprising representatives from RICS, the Building Social Housing Foundation, the Federation of Master Builders, the Country Land and Business Association,  RBC Capital Markets, Lewisham Council, Gateshead Council and the London School of Economics.

Following the call for evidence over the summer we will be holding two hearings in Parliament on the 13th and 27th October. We will invite witnesses who submit useful and interesting written evidence to come and discuss their thoughts with our three Parliamentarians.

We are also hosting two roundtable discussions with practitioners in Cambridge and Gateshead to explore some of the issues in more detail.

We will then submit a short report with our findings and recommendations to RICS by the end of the year. The Taskforce will report by spring 2017.