The National Housing Taskforce is a sectoral and political coalition convened by RICS and the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Housing and Planning. It was established to develop clear, workable proposals for both Government and industry to address the UK’s chronic shortage of housing.
A fundamental principle of the APPG for Housing and Planning is inclusivity, and, in common with the officers of the group, as Secretariat we want to avoid piecemeal pronouncements and really get to the heart of the housing challenges faced by the UK.
To this end, the National Housing Taskforce is operating across 12 distinct areas of work, covering everything from planning reform to housing associations, and construction skills to mortgage finance. Furthermore, each stream is being organised by a relevant partner organisation with the credibility to convene a wide coalition of organisations in pursuit of their recommendations. This cross-sectoral approach mirrors the cross-party composition of the APPG itself.
The Taskforce will conduct its work throughout 2016 and will produce reports toward the end of the year.
Private Sector Development
The majority of new housing completions in the UK are delivered within the private sector, and from the largest volume housebuilders to smaller firms building fewer than 100 homes a year, private sector developers need to be at the heart of any long-term strategy to increase supply.
This work-stream analyses the current challenges facing the sector, and assesses what can be done to unlock its full potential.
Lead organisers: G15, Homes for the North, Placeshapers and the National Housing Federation
As the state has built fewer homes over the last 40 years, Housing Associations have become the pre-eminent source of social housing. In 2013, such associations built 21,600 new homes and research suggests that number could be much higher if certain reforms were put in place (IPPR ‘We Must Fix It’ Report, 2011).
This work-stream is investigating the full spectrum of challenges faced by Housing Associations, and evaluating how they can best fulfil their role in the future, particularly in the new context set by the Housing and Planning Act 2016.
Aesthetics and Build Quality
Lead organisers: National Housebuilding Council (NHBC) and Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)
If the UK’s housing crisis is to be tackled in a sustainable way, it is vital that the homes we build are built to a high standard and provide attractive places to live. There can be no long-term trade-off between quantity and quality and new building techniques can allow good quality design to be at the heart of new projects.
This work-stream will investigate the policy levers that can promote good design, the links between design and build quality, and identify what else policy-makers can do to improve performance in these areas.
Lead organiser: Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI)
The greatest long-term constrain on housing supply in the UK is the availability of suitable land at prices that make it possible to build. If we are to deliver the homes we need, reform of the planning system is imperative; this will require striking an intelligent balance between releasing the land we need and protecting the countryside that is such an integral part of the UK’s identity.
This work-stream will bring together all perspectives on the question of land availability to identify areas of common interest. The issue of land is understandably charged with emotion and, handled correctly, can actually encourage rather than impede an agreement on how we can best achieve our shared objectives.
Skills, Materials and New Technology
Lead organiser: Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB)
We cannot achieve either the desired quality of quantity of new housing without addressing the skills gap that currently exists across the construction sector. Furthermore, there are unprecedented opportunities for improving productivity and driving down costs through the use of new construction techniques, such as off-site manufacture (OSM).
This work-stream is charged with addressing the main issues in the construction labour market, including availability, productivity and diversity. It will develop ideas for action for both government and industry, aimed at ensuring we have the capacity to deliver the homes we need.
CIOB have now launched their call for evidence to gather views, data and supporting evidence for this work-stream. This will be open until Sunday 9th September.
Private Rented Sector
Lead organiser: British Property Federation (BPF)
Due to a range of social and economic changes, the private rented sector (PRS) now accounts for a greater number — and broader range — of tenants than it has in the past; it is no longer simply a stepping stone on the way to home ownership. Millions of people, from young professionals to families, rely on the sector and estimates suggest that 20% of UK households will be in the PRS by 2020 (RICS Residential Policy Paper, 2015).
This work-stream is assessing how we can best meet the challenge of providing a secure, sustainable sector for both landlords and tenants. It will identify how long-term institutional investment can be encouraged, how costs can be effectively managed and how high standards across the board can be ensured.
New Sources of Supply
Lead organiser: National CLT Network
It is increasingly clear that we can only deliver the homes we need if we utilise all the different delivery models that are available, including the public, private and third sectors. The current model is clearly not delivering the quantity of homes we need, and it is vital that we think imaginatively about where else supply can come from, including self and custom-build, Community Land Trusts (CLTs) in order to create a more diverse and resilient housing sector.
This work-stream is tasked with proposing ways in which this can be achieved, and how a greater number and range of smaller supplies can be brought into the market.
The National CLT Network have now launched their consultation to seek views on this theme.
Lead organiser: Nationwide
The 2008 global financial crash highlighted in spectacular fashion the centrality of the mortgage market to our economies and societies. An efficient housing market requires an efficient financial framework for home buyers, and this means ensuring adequate and responsible lending, and developing new financial models to match changing socio-economic and demographic circumstances.
This work-stream is assessing the current condition of the UK mortgage market, and identifying areas where changes would benefit the health of the overall system.
Lead organiser: British Bankers Associations (BBA)
Housing developers across all areas of the sector need access to finance in order to operate. From the largest volume housebuilders to SMEs facing particular funding challenges, it is imperative that capital is put to productive use in the sector and that builders can be confident of long-term, secure finance.
This work-stream is examining the market conditions for house builders and the finance market, and will produce concrete recommendations for both government and financial institutions setting out how they can be improved.
Demographics and Culture Change
Lead organiser: YouGov
The housing sector cannot be abstracted from the broader social, economic and cultural context within which it is embedded. Houses are not merely bricks and mortar; they are homes, communities, and the foundation on which all other aspects of life are built. Our housing market needs to be capable of reacting to the long-term demographic and social changes currently underway across the country, and a proper understand of these needs to inform the housing debate right across the board.
This work-stream is investigating how the way we live is impacting on the housing sector and vice versa.
Improving and Releasing Existing Stock
Lead organiser: Empty Homes
Official figures suggest there are over 200,000 long-term empty homes, almost enough to fulfil our housing supply requirements for an entire year. Whilst building more new homes is essential to meet the scale of the housing challenge, bringing existing empty homes back into use can clearly make a significant contribution.
This work-stream is assessing how this can be achieved across three key themes: areas of high concentrations of empty homes; the "buy-to-leave" problem and the potential for putting commercial properties to residential use.
Public Sector Building
Lead organiser: National Association of Local Councils (NALC)
Over the last 40 years, the number of new homes provided directly by the public sector has dwindled to a negligibly small amount. In the 1970s, local authorities built 130,000 homes a year; they now build 2,000 (The Economist, The Housing Market: Through the Roof, 2015). Given that the private and third sectors alone have only rarely delivered more than 200,000 a year, clearly there is scope for assessing how the public sector can contribute more.
This work-stream is assessing how much scope there is for the public sector to deliver more homes. It will be investigating new approaches that go beyond old models of council house building, such as direct commissioning, and will also develop proposals for how local authorities can be empowered to deliver more homes.
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