Wednesday, March 17 2004

Up to 140,000 new homes must be built every year from now to meet the acute need for more housing in Britain, says a report out today.

Kate Barker’s report, commissioned by Gordon Brown, has outlined suggestions of how the Government might provide more housing, particularly for first time buyers and financially vulnerable people wanting social housing available to rent.

Ms Barker warns that housebuilding is at its lowest level since the second world war, saying: ‘I believe that continuing at the current rate of housebuilding is not a realistic option, unless we are prepared to accept increasing problems of homelessness, declining affordability and social division, decline in standards of public service delivery and increasing costs of doing business in the UK.

‘Creating a more flexible housing market is a considerable challenge that will require concerted action by all players: Government at national, regional and local level, the building industry and those engaged in social housing provision.’

The report claims that the nature of the planning process does not allow for construction to take place quickly enough, and calls for the formation of Regional Planning Executives to streamline the procedure.

Ms Barker also suggests levying a tax on land when it gains planning permission, arguing that a community should benefit from the increase in the value of land once clearance has been given for it to be built on. The money should be poured back in to other schemes to increase housebuilding, she says.

She also suggests that appropriate incentives should be put in place to ensure local authorities support this development, with a Community Infrastructure Fund of £100 – £200 million to support this.

The report came only hours before the Chancellor recommended his 2004 Budget to the House of Commons.

Treasury wesbite