Is new housing the need of the hour in the UK? While it may be difficult to put a number on exactly how many new houses are needed in the UK at the moment, it is very clear that there is a need for adequate housing in appropriate locations. Essentially, the need for new houses comes about when the population increases. However, as there is already a backlog in the UK due to the number of people who are living in unsuitable residential accommodations, creating new affordable housing in the UK is certainly the need of the hour.
Affordability pressures also add to the equation, as the rising interest rates and increased mortgage rates coupled with the lack of affordable mortgages make affordability a big issue. When individuals are not able to get access to adequate affordable housing there is inevitable overcrowding and homelessness. According to some data from the National Housing Federation (NHF), the UK requires around 340,000 homes in 2023 with approximately 145,000 of these homes being affordable. At the moment, the current rate of housing supply is lower than the UK government’s expected target, according to estate agents in Doncaster. The UK government planned to create around 300,000 new homes every year, but only 233,000 new homes were created in 2021 and 2022. While this is a drastic jump from 2012 to 2013, when only 125,000 new homes were created, the number of new homes created from 2019 to 2020 did reach 243,000. One reason for the fall in supply is the Covid-19 pandemic. Another reason is the increase in the cost of building materials and construction costs, which in turn led to an increase in the cost of building hence reducing the supply. So, how can we solve the issue of inadequate homes in inappropriate locations in the UK?
For one, the contribution of local housing associations and local council authorities can help the housing sector a great deal. There is a widespread view among citizens that public sector investments will help the government meet delivery targets quickly and more efficiently. Secondly, the government needs to work toward ensuring that more land that is suitable for development is brought forward at a reasonable price, quickly. This should also include public land, if required. Thirdly, the government along with the local planning departments needs to create a chart for the proper allocation of resources. They need to create a planning system that can be used throughout the country; one that is fast, simple and affordable. The current planning system for house building is considered to be expensive, complicated and very slow.
After these matters have been addressed, the government also needs to address how essential infrastructure can be funded to support more housing developments. Attempts to reduce the cost of building materials and construction costs also need to be made. The UK government also needs to work towards encouraging small building firms and medium building firms to enter the housing market, as this is usually dominated by larger firms. Lastly, the builders and developers need to focus on improved training and increasing house-building capacity. This will ensure that the construction sector will be able to create ready-to-deliver, fit and stable homes in the future.
Let us take a look at The London Housing Strategy which was formally adopted in August 2018. This strategy aims at addressing the housing storage in London while looking to use the available land. The aim is to create affordable housing while helping those individuals who have been deeply impacted by the housing crisis. The London Housing Strategy has 5 key principles. One, build homes for Londoners. Two, create and deliver genuinely affordable homes. Third, create good-quality homes in inclusive neighbourhoods at an affordable price. Fourth, allow a fairer deal for leaseholders and private renters as they have been impacted by the housing crisis. And lastly, number five, use these affordable homes to tackle the issue of homelessness.
Using this example, we can see that creating a clear strategy with a clear aim is what the UK government needs to create affordable homes in appropriate areas. Of course, if small, medium and large firms in the housing sector come on board together, then this goal can be accomplished quickly and very easily. Poor housing conditions and a violation of the right to adequate housing are human rights under international law. This is binding on the UK and it is essential for the UK to provide an adequate standard of living for everyone.