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22/01/2018

HFI sets out strategy to build 300,000 homes a year

Words: Laura Edgar
Housing estate / iStock: 180837212

Housing should be designated as a specific national infrastructure priority, according to the Housing & Finance Institute (HFI).

The notion comes as part of a three-prolonged strategy, which the institute said would speed up housebuilding and help the government to deliver on its promise to build 300,000 homes a year.

This target has only been achieved six times since the Second World War, the last time in 1969, pointed out the HFI. Further to this, the sector “is not confident” that it can deliver the increase in numbers required to meet the new target without a “radical” change in the way the government supports the industry.

The HFI also warns that economic uncertainty means a “considerable uplift” in the number of homes delivered this year is not expected.

Natalie Elphicke, chief executive at the Housing & Finance Institute and a former government housing adviser, noted that although the government is on track to meet its target of one million homes by 2020, “a further increase in building from 160,000 homes to 200,000-250,000 homes a year would be an impressive feat”.

“The ambition of the government is to be applauded. But make no mistake, 300,000 new homes is a truly tough target."

She said discussions with the industry in the second half of 2017 found it to be positive about building and growth, and that the current levels of housebuilding are sustainable. “The view is very much ‘steady as she goes’ rather than gearing up for a major shift in delivery numbers,” she added.

To help accelerate growth, the HFI has made a number of recommendations, including that housing should be made a specific national infrastructure policy. The government “must be seen” to take housing infrastructure seriously.

Focusing on modular housing and “state-of-the-art” manufacturing would also boost productivity and assist the government in meeting its target, “while securing quality, consistency and affordability”.

The third recommendation is a step-change in financing. A lot more money is needed to build 300,000 homes a year. The institute said greater attention is required to bring public and private finance together to support housebuilding.

Image credit | iStock

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