Message for the Chancellor, “Let’s get building”.

20th Nov 2017

 

The media is currently full of stories about the need to build more houses, so here’s a prediction for free, the Chancellor is going to announce something big about housing in Wednesday’s budget

If he doesn’t, he’s toast. He will though, there are too many briefings suggesting it for him not to.

The type of housing also matters. Last week, in the Independent newspaper, the headline read “Council housing numbers hit lowest point since records began”. The first house I lived was a council house (I was too young to remember) but my grandparents lived in council houses all their lives after 1945. In 1980, there were 6.5 million council houses, there are now around 2 million.

Council house social rents are half that of private rented homes and the energy efficiency ratings are known to be superior too. So the house is cheaper to heat and more comfortable to live in.

For years, Governments of all colours have failed to get house building in the numbers required. They have relied on the private sector to do so and that plan has failed. So it could be left, once again, to councils to pick up the baton.

As for the demand, well we could be talking about 100,000 affordable homes built a year and up to 250,000 new builds in total. That presents a great opportunity for our industry, with local jobs being created to meet this extra demand. Building these homes to high levels of energy efficiency now, would prevent the farcical situation of retrofits in 20 years’ time, and keep current bills down for new tenants/owners.

It will also force, through the market, the private rented sector to up its game or lose out. So we could also see the worst performing housing sector start to improve the quality of homes for rent and that includes energy efficiency measures such as new boilers or even the installation of first time central heating systems.

Plenty to look out for on Wednesday in what has been billed as a “make or break budget” for Chancellor Hammond.