National Housing Taskforce hears from expert witnesses in Parliament

Tuesday 01 November 2016

The Government could unlock the supply of tens of thousands of new homes a year from small, self, custom and community builders, according to our inquiry into new sources of housing supply, which held its hearing in Parliament last week.

Helen Hayes MP, chair of the inquiry, said:

"There is clearly a huge amount of enthusiasm and innovation among small, self, custom and community builders. But our inquiry is uncovering a long list of barriers that are frustrating their efforts, whether it's acquiring land, getting to site, accessing finance, or even just starting up a new community-led housing organisation.

"The Government has an opportunity to take these sectors from the margins and help them become a mainstream part of house building in England. We've identified a lot of practical ways to do this, and will shortly be making our recommendations to the National Housing Taskforce."

The New Sources of Supply inquiry, part of the National Housing Taskforce, heard from fifteen expert witnesses from these specialist sectors as well as councils and lenders. They discussed:

  • Releasing more public land, and helping local authorities and builders navigate issues like best consideration, competitive procurement and state aid that frequently trip innovative projects up.
  • How more private land could be released by thousands of owners who care about stewardship and local communities, particularly through work with community-led providers and if concerns about Right to Buy and Starter Homes are overcome.
  • The need for seed-corn finance to take new providers through to the point where commercial lenders will be willing to lend to them, including de-risking projects.
  • The role that enabling organisations can play, both in helping local authorities to put in place the right policies and procedures, and to support new providers to start up and grow.

The inquiry heard about a range of examples of good practice in the UK and abroad, and suggestions as to how these can be scaled up and mainstreamed in England.

Representatives from the following organisations gave evidence: Big Society Capital, Birmingham City Council, Bristol Community Land Trust, Building Social Housing Foundation, Constructive Individuals, Country Land and Business Association, Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council, Federation of Master Builders, Greater London Authority, Housing Justice, igloo, National Custom and Self Build Association, Wessex Community Land Trust Project, Ecology Building Society, and Teignbridge District Council.

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