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Analysis of the latest homelessness statistics by the National Housing Federation has found that for every one new social home built in England, eight families are accepted as homeless by their local council.

Government figures show that 42,810 families were accepted as homeless in England last year, 117 families every day, with more than two thirds of these single parents.

In comparison only 5,385 new social rent homes were built in the same period – equivalent to 14 per day.

Ten years ago, five more new homes for social rent were built every day than families accepted as homeless.

These homes are typically 50% of market rent and are therefore the most affordable and secure type of housing for these families.

Since councils have a legal duty to house children, homeless families are often housed in temporary accommodation. New National Housing Federation analysis has also found the number of children living in temporary accommodation has risen by 81% since its low point in June 2011, from 68,770 to 124,490 children. At the current rate of house building, it is likely to reach the highest ever recorded by 2022.

When social rent funding was halted in 2010, the number of new social homes being built plummeted. This has put a massive strain on available social housing, with increasing numbers of low income families left with no possible means of accessing a secure and affordable home. This has contributed to many more families ending up in temporary accommodation and staying there for longer.

In 2018 the government made its first commitment in ten years to building homes for social rent, but at £2bn this was only intended to build 25,000 homes over five years. Research by the National Housing Federation shows that England needs as many as 90,000 new social rent homes every year to house those most in need, including homeless families and those on waiting lists. This is over 17 times the number currently being built.

The National Housing Federation is calling on the government to invest serious amounts of money over the long term in building more social housing and to use the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review to do this.

Kate Henderson, Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation said “The shocking disparity between the number of families made homeless every day and new social homes being built, puts into stark perspective how far away we are from meeting our housing need.

“Homeless families are just the tip of the iceberg, there are thousands more in equally desperate need, living in severe poverty, overcrowding and unable to afford their rent. This is having a lasting and detrimental effect on hundreds of thousands of children affecting their mental and physical health.

“This should be a massive wake up call for the government to take urgent action to increase the number of social homes being built every year, and commit significantly more funding for social housing in the next Government Spending Review.”

Two years on from the Grenfell Tower fire, Shelter is warning the government must listen to the third of families with children in social housing who feel less safe in their homes and take urgent action to prevent further tragedies.

The government is proposing a new building safety regulator, but the housing charity fears this will not go far enough to ensure the health, safety and well-being of all tenants is protected. That is why Shelter is standing with Grenfell United to call on the government to introduce a tough, new consumer regulator that protects tenants and proactively inspects social landlords.

New figures released by Shelter show that over half (56%) of social renters in England – five million people – have experienced a problem with their home in the last three years, including electrical hazards, gas leaks and faulty lifts. Among those who had a problem, one in 10 had to report it more than 10 times, suggesting tenants are still being failed by poor regulation.

Worryingly, the survey carried out by YouGov shows that over the same period more than 400,000 people encountered an issue with fire safety, which also affected their neighbours in over two-fifths of cases.

Shelter is concerned that the current regulator of social housing exists mainly to oversee finances and is not exclusively focussed on addressing the concerns of residents or tackling problem landlords head-on. In fact, almost three-quarters (72%) of social tenants in England have never heard of the current regulator.

The research also reveals a deep mistrust in the government since the Grenfell Tower fire, with half saying they have less trust in the government to keep social tenants safe in their homes. Another third says the government’s response has made no difference. This is why Shelter and Grenfell United believe that only a new consumer regulator can protect tenants and rebuild trust.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said “Social tenants living in Grenfell Tower raised serious safety concerns before the fire, but they were ignored. Two years on, social renters are still being failed by poor regulation and people are still fighting to be heard.

“In the wake of food scandals and financial scandals, the government responded with new regulators to protect consumers, and that’s exactly what we need for social housing. It cannot be right that scores of complaints and problems that affect whole blocks of flats, like faulty lifts or gas leaks, go unheard. We need a new regulator that’s firmly on the side of tenants.

“Tinkering with the current system just isn’t good enough when people have lost trust in it to keep them safe. That’s why we stand with Grenfell United in calling on the government to establish a new consumer regulator, which inspects social landlords and listens to groups of tenants when they say something isn’t right.”

Natasha Elcock, Chair of Grenfell United, the bereaved families and survivors’ group added “People were raising the alarm about fire safety in Grenfell before the fire, but they were ignored and belittled. The current housing regulator did nothing for us, it was entirely invisible. And two years later, despite all the promises, we still hear from people across the country who are not being listened to about their homes.

“If we want to stop another Grenfell fire, we need serious change – change that will genuinely make a difference to people living in social housing. We need a new system, not a rebrand of the current one. The government introduced a new regime for the banking industry after the financial crash, it should be doing the same for the housing sector. After all, what could be more important than people’s homes.”

New research from the National Housing Federation reveals that the Government must invest £12.8bn a year to finally end the housing crisis in England.

Over ten years, this investment would kick start a nationwide housebuilding programme of around 1.45 million social homes to rent and shared ownership properties to buy across the country. It would stimulate the economy and help more buyers to get on the housing ladder, all while ensuring that millions of people no longer get stuck in inappropriate homes or on the streets.

Now, a coalition of leading housing groups and charities is calling for the Government to make this significant investment in ending the housing crisis. This includes the National Housing Federation – which represents social landlords to six million people – Shelter, Crisis, CPRE, and the Chartered Institute of Housing.

By investing £12.8bn per year, in today’s prices, they argue that the Government would take spending levels back to those last seen under Churchill’s government in the early 1950s, when enough homes were being built to meet the country’s needs.

The coalition argues that a stimulus from the Government is the only way to solve the housing crisis, since the private market alone cannot build the quantities or types of homes the country needs.

Over the course of ten years, this Government investment would amount to £146bn, including inflation. This would cover about 44% of the total cost of this construction boom, unlocking the rest of the money which can then be raised from other sources.

The research also finds that investing in new homes would add £120bn to the economy each year, through the creation of local jobs in construction and other industries across the country. Effectively, every pound spent by the Government would generate at least £5, boosting the economy in a balanced and sustainable way.

It would also reduce the Government’s benefit bill over the course of the decade. Last year, the Government paid £22.3bn in housing benefit, a significant amount of which went into the pockets of private landlords to help cover rent for millions of low-income tenants. By moving many of these tenants into social housing, the Government would need to spend less on housing benefit over time, and so could save taxpayers tens of millions of pounds every year. This would also allow more people to build a solid foundation for their lives in social housing, aiding social mobility.

This new financial modelling is based on research, conducted by Heriot Watt University for the National Housing Federation and the homelessness charity Crisis, which showed that England needs to build 145,000 social homes every year for the next decade to both clear the current backlog of people who need a home and meet future demand.

Last year the Government spent £1.27bn on affordable housing, making housing one of the smallest government budgets, down 70% on 2010 levels. As a result, far fewer social rented homes are being built. In 2017/18, just 5,400 were built, compared to almost 36,000 in 2010/11 before funding was cut.

The chronic under-investment in housing has led to a 169% increase in rough sleeping, while the number of households in temporary accommodation is at a 10-year high. What’s more, 1.3 million children are currently living in poverty in expensive privately rented accommodation, while many young people are stuck at home with their parents, unable to build an independent life and start families of their own.

Kate Henderson, Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation, said “The housing crisis is an economic, social and human catastrophe. But it can be solved. And now, for the first time, we know exactly how much it will cost. By investing £12.8bn in affordable housing every year for the next decade, the Government can ensure millions of people have a stable and affordable place to live, at the same time as strengthening the economy across the country.

“By investing this money in affordable housing at the upcoming spending review, the Government can help families all across the country to flourish. They can help children get out of poverty, give young voters a foot up on the housing ladder and help out private renters who have to empty their bank account every month.

“As well as being the right thing to do, investing to end the housing crisis also carries huge economic benefits. It will advance the country’s productivity, boost its economic growth and lower the benefit bill over time.”

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, added “The steep decline in social housing is at the core of the housing emergency that now effects so many. Social homes are what this country wants and what it needs – they are the best solution to the problems we face and an opportunity to unite the country.

“Successive governments have failed to build social housing – while homelessness spirals and half of young people will never be able to buy. Now is the time to act for the millions of people trapped in housing poverty, and invest real resources where it matters most.

“Charting a course to build a new generation of social homes must be a key test for whoever walks through the doors of Number 10. The race to eradicate homelessness and provide millions with a stable home, is a race that every politician should be trying to win.”

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, concluded “Right now, thousands of people across England are finding themselves on the brink of homelessness or are already experiencing it, in large part because of our huge shortage of social housing.

“The good news is we know it doesn’t have to be this way – and we know why this situation must change urgently. Homelessness has devastating effects on people’s mental and physical wellbeing that no one should have to experience. This can’t go on.

“Ultimately Government must invest in the number of social homes we need. Not only will this save the country millions of pounds in the long term, it will help us end homelessness once and for all – something we can’t afford to put off any longer.”

The Government needs to do more to remove the barriers to small to medium-sized (SME) house builders if its housing targets are to be met, according to industry experts the Federation of Master Builders, in response to the House of Commons Public Accounts Select Committee report, ‘Planning and the broken housing market’.

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders, (FMB) said “SME house builders are continuing to face numerous barriers to increasing their capacity to build the homes that are needed. The recommendations in the Public Accounts Committee’s report highlight that the planning system is delaying progress. It is completely unacceptable that sites are being stalled because planning departments are not dealing with applications quickly enough. Our members aren’t seeing any improvements in service since fees were increased in January last year – a policy the FMB supported.”

“The report finds that, as of December last year, only 42 per cent of local authorities had an up-to-date local plan which is truly disappointing. By allocating small sites for housing delivery in their local plan, local authorities will be reducing the burden of uncertainty for the nation’s small house builders, and therefore speeding up housing supply through better diversifying the sector. Furthermore, we must not forget the highly positive impact that these local businesses have on their areas, offering employment and training opportunities to local people.”

“Access to finance for SME house builders has undoubtedly improved over the last few years but the loan to cost ratio from most lenders is simply unviable for SMEs – especially the micro firms, building fewer than five units a year. The FMB House Builders’ Survey 2018 found respondents estimated that they could increase their out by 38 per cent if they could achieve a loan to value/cost ratio of 80 per cent. Government must work with the finance sector to understand how lending to small house builders can be increased and improved. The time is now for the Government to heed the warnings of the Public Accounts Committee.”

The mortgage market review in the UK has displayed how it is getting increasingly harder to obtain a mortgage in Britain. It seems that many investors are now turning their gaze a little further afield in order to get a little more bang for their buck. Joe Bradbury of Building Specifier investigates:

Research undertaken by GoCompare.com indicates that more than 20% of those attempting to get on the UK housing ladder would consider leaving Britain in order to own a home of their own. Whilst this doesn’t mean that those thinking of an overseas mortgage will actually pursue one, it is a clear indication that there appears to be a shifting attitude within the UK regarding the possibility of owning property abroad.

So is this due to Great Britain becoming a growing generation of nomads, or is there something else going on?

In comparison, Santander mortgages conducted a similar survey of their own. Their compiled data suggested that 1.1 million would consider leaving the UK in pursuit of a place to call home. A further 10% said they would happily move jobs or relocate elsewhere in Great Britain to help them purchase their first house. Sadly, the research also revealed that 7.5 million (49%) of non-homeowners don’t ever expect to own a home. This shows the severity of the issues the UK is currently experiencing with house prices and mortgage availability. Needless to say, with such an attitude becoming increasingly prevalent in the country, it can only be expected that people are looking for new, lucrative directions in which to channel their hard-earned cash.

In the past, the majority of people who chose to buy a home overseas did so using savings they had accumulated over the years, or with equity released from their UK residence. However, with UK house prices currently in disarray and the cost of holidays abroad steadily soaring, many are beginning to consider a home abroad as a permanent solution to both problems. This has led to foreign lenders have becoming more inclined to work with prospective UK buyers, and gradually more and more people are borrowing to finance homes abroad.

Another contributing factor that could potentially be attracting many Brits to consider such a big move is the appealing interest rates around the Eurozone. Foreign lenders are often more inclined to work closely with investors, paying attention to their individual needs. For example, if your intention is to buy a property in a popular holiday location and rent it out, the income you make from renting can be offset against the loan for tax purposes. Also, some countries have extremely high wealth charges but these tend to only be payable on equity. Borrowing rather than buying outright could prove to be more financially beneficial, meaning that investors can avoid this pricey tax.

Although Europe seems to get a lot of attention from prospective emigrants, the research also suggests that people are open to the possibility of looking much, much further afield – outside of the EU. To be specific, 31% showed interest in America, 29% in Australia and 20% in New Zealand. A property in any one of these countries need not be solely a personal home, but could provide a tidy income through letting and would likely appreciate in the long term.

Whatever the reasoning and regardless of how many choose to leave Britain in order to improve their opportunities, both investigations suggest a sea change in the UK property market. It seems homebuyers are increasingly feeling like they are left with two choices, do they ride the tide or risk being left out to dry as the currents shift within the sector.

The Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) is calling for a new, ground-breaking piece of legislation to transform the quality of new homes in England.

The proposals would force ministers to make sure that all new housing meets ten quality, safety and placemaking ‘principles’, attributes the organisation claims collectively constitute a ‘decent’ home.

Principles put forward in the organisation’s draft ‘Healthy Homes Bill’ include a requirement that new housing is built to be safe from the risk of fire, includes adequate living space and is located within a short walk of children’s play spaces.

The call for this new legislation is a response to research the TCPA undertook with University College London (UCL), which in one case study found that, using permitted development rights, a developer had increased the number of flats in a building by 33% upon what was declared within their ‘prior approval’ application, potentially leading to overcrowding and preventing the local authority from planning to meet the needs of residents. In another example, researchers discovered a two-bed flat, again built using permitted development, having only one small window.

This announcement coincides with the centenary of the Housing and Town Planning Act 1919, a key piece of legislation which helped transform the quality and delivery of council housing, giving ordinary people a decent home.

Fiona Howie, chief executive of the TCPA, said “There is a need for more homes but it is essential that they are of a high quality. Too often that is not the case. The very worst examples we have seen have come through the deregulated conversion of old office blocks and storage facilities into housing units. The creation of these cramped and substandard housing units is even more scandalous given what we know about the impact of housing conditions on people’s health and well-being. Poor quality, badly designed housing damages people’s life chances.

“In the rush to build more homes quality and safety is being overlooked. Surely everyone should agree that is unacceptable? We have gone backwards over the last 100 years. The Healthy Homes Act will help make sure that new homes built today leave a positive legacy. We know there is cross party political support for new homes and we hope there will be cross party support for this vital piece of new legislation to help transform the kinds of homes and places we are creating now and for future generations.”

Japan’s biggest housebuilder will move into the UK housing market with immediate effect after striking a multi-million pound deal that will see it work with Homes England and Urban Splash to deliver thousands of new homes across England.

Sekisui House, one of the world’s leading housebuilders, are pioneers of modern methods of construction, where homes are built in factories and then shipped out to sites.

The £90m deal, which has been facilitated by lead real estate and financial advisor JLL, comprises a total new investment of £55m into regeneration company Urban Splash’s ‘House’ development business. It provides a significant boost to the UK’s modular housing industry and will help to speed up production of much-needed new homes.

Sekisui House have invested £22m of new equity, with £30m of equity and debt funding coming from the Government’s Home Building Fund, administered through Homes England.

Experienced entrepreneur Noel McKee, founder of We Buy Any Car, has also made a sizeable investment in the new partnership and will take an incremental c 5% stake.

Yoshihiro Nakai, President and Representative Director of Sekisui House Ltd said “We are extremely pleased to be able to work together with Homes England and Urban Splash to establish our operations and help to create outstanding communities in the UK.

“Using modern methods of construction to build high quality homes with short build times is one of our company’s great strengths. Our technology and know-how can help resolve pressing social issues in the UK, and I want to see us play our part effective immediately. These operations can also help bring vitality to UK regions, and we will work to make the strongest connections with the local communities.”

‘House’ is expected to deliver thousands of homes across England using modern methods of construction.

Minister of State for Housing, Kit Malthouse MP, added “Sekisui House bring with them a proven track record in harnessing the modern methods of construction that are transforming home building.

“Backed by Government investment, this announcement will support our urgent mission to deliver more, better and faster home construction to ensure a new generation can realise the dream of home ownership.”

Homes England, the government’s housing accelerator, has been instrumental in providing significant financial support and expertise to the new partnership as well as providing assurance to the investors.

Sir Edward Lister, Chair of Homes England, commented “When Homes England launched last year we said we’d disrupt the housing market to increase the pace of construction. By helping bring one of the world’s largest and most innovative housebuilders to UK shores, we’re putting our money where our mouth is.

“By creating a more diverse landscape – where smaller builders such as Urban Splash get a stronger foothold – we’re rebuilding the building industry; driving up quality and improving consumer choice.”

Tom Bloxham MBE, Chairman of Urban Splash, concluded “We believe that there is a real opportunity in the UK housebuilding industry. We hope to leverage our 25 years of place-making experience and our recent investments into modular housing by bringing in new partners; having looked far and wide we chose Sekisui House from Japan because of the company’s unrivalled global experience in modular construction and shared values and philosophy that we are making homes not units, and a joint belief in the need for a green future.

“We are also proud to partner with Homes England – part of the UK Government – because of their commitment to modular and desire to grow capacity in the UK housing business.

“We are incredibly excited about the accelerated production of much-needed homes and evolving traditional practices as we embrace the benefits of innovative offsite construction. I hope it will establish us as the housing partner of choice for landowners – both public and private.”

According to the housing delivery test results released by the government, which shows that a third of local authorities are failing to address the housing crisis.

The results show that 108 local authorities delivered fewer than 95% of the homes they need. This means that they must set out action plans to explain why they missed their targets and how they will address that.

In addition, 87 of these local authorities failed to deliver 85% of the homes they need and will therefore be subject to a buffer, which requires them to add 20% more homes to their five year land supply.

No area delivered fewer than 25% of their housing need, which means none will face the ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’ penalty. However, the presumption penalty threshold will increase to 45% from November 2019 and to 65% in November 2020.

If the Government had not given areas three years to meet the 65% threshold, 32 local authorities would have been subject to the penalty.

The National Federation of Builders (NFB) recognises the challenges local planning authorities face in meeting the demand for housing, but remains concerned that so many councils are missing their targets, leaving us a shortfall of more than 220,000 new homes.

As local developers, NFB members would have preferred local authorities be in control of their own housing destiny but, since many are failing in their duty to meet housing demand and underestimating housing need, we welcome the blunt instrument that the Government is wielding.

Richard Beresford, chief executive of the NFB, said “Since the carrot of meeting housing need themselves is not enticing enough for local planners, the Government’s stick of penalties and buffers is clearly required. We have a housing crisis and the Government is taking appropriate steps to fix it.”

Rico Wojtulewicz, head of housing and planning policy at the House Builders Association (HBA), concluded “Councils need to do a better job assessing housing need and identify where homes can be built more quickly. If they continue to underestimate demand and focus on large, controversial developments, we expect the housing crisis to worsen and the Government to take control from failing councils.”

Small house builders predict that skills shortages in the building industry will hamper housing delivery and will eventually overtake access to finance as a bigger barrier to building new homes, according to recent research conducted by industry experts, the Federation of Master Builders.

Key results from the FMB’s House Builders’ Survey, the only annual assessment of small and medium sized (SME) house builders in England, include:

  • A lack of available and viable land tops the list as the most commonly cited barrier (59%) to increasing housing delivery and almost two-thirds of SME house builders (62%) believe that the number of opportunities for small site development are actually decreasing (up from 54% in 2017)
  • The percentage of SME house builders saying that a shortage of skilled workers is a major barrier to their ability to build more new homes rose to 44% (up from 42% in 2017)
  • Nearly half of small house builders (46%) say access to finance is a major barrier to their ability to build more new homes
  • More than half (51%) of SME house builders view the planning system as a major constraint on their ability to grow and ‘inadequate resourcing of planning departments’ was again rated as the most significant cause of delay in the planning application process for the third year in a row
  • When asked to look ahead over the next three years, more firms cited skills shortages as a likely barrier to growth than access to finance

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said “Nearly half of builders believe the skills shortage is a major barrier to their ability to build new homes. The construction sector is heavily reliant on EU workers with just under one in ten workers in the sector born in the EU. Brexit, coupled with the end of free movement, threatens to further intensify the skills shortages we already face. Given that the UK will leave the EU in less than six months, house builders are understandably concerned that skills shortages could worsen and choke housing delivery. In order to combat this skills crisis, the construction industry needs to encourage more entrants into the industry and develop higher quality qualifications. It is critical therefore that the Government doesn’t pull the rug out from under the sector by introducing an inflexible and unresponsive immigration system.”

“Our research also shows that the Government must continue to address the issue of access to finance for SME house builders. Although concerns over access to finance have eased slightly in recent years, in part thanks to the Government’s funding schemes such as the Home Building Fund, there is more that can be done. Our research suggests that it is the low percentages of project cost that builders are able to borrow that remain the greatest financial barrier to increasing their levels of house building. This latest research suggests that if firms were able to borrow 80 per cent, rather than the current 60 to 65 per cent of project cost, SME builders would be able to bring forward on average 40 per cent more new homes. Given the ambitious house building targets the Government is working towards, we cannot afford to ignore such a chance to significantly increase housing delivery.”

“A lack of available and viable small sites tops the list of frustrations for SME house builders for the fourth year in a row. Worse still, nearly two-thirds of these small builders believe that the number of opportunities for small site development are decreasing. However, the recent reforms to the National Planning Policy Framework, which specify that 10 per cent of a local authority’s housing delivery must be on sites no larger than one hectare, will help to address this problem. This will help to speed up the delivery of homes and lead to a more diverse and resilient housing supply.”

The residential sector had a particularly positive February with £1.7 billion contracts awarded, an increase of 13.1% on January. Residential unit numbers also increased – up by 5.4% on January at 9,850 units. Following residential in terms of contracts awarded was infrastructure with a 13.9% share and education with a 12.3% share.

Barbour ABI

The latest edition of the Economic & Construction Market Review from industry analysts Barbour ABI highlights levels of construction contract values awarded across Great Britain. This month it shows the total value of construction contracts awarded in February 2019 was £5.4 billion which is a 0.5% decrease on January, but 10.6% higher than February 2018.

The top project awarded during February was the £250 million redevelopment of Chelsea Barracks which sees Multiplex Construction Europe provide a total of 88 residential units in a single 5 storey structure. The largest infrastructure contract was the £110 million redevelopment of the former Royal London Hospital site in Tower Hamlets to provide a new civic centre and council offices. The largest overall education contract was in Edinburgh and was the £90 million redevelopment and extension of the Darwin Building for the University of Edinburgh.

Barbour ABI