The profession has broadly welcomed communities secretary Sajid Javid’s announcement that the government should borrow billions of pounds to pay for the infrastructure needed to boost Britain’s supply of new homes
Speaking ahead of next month’s budget, Javid said the government could take advantage of record low interest rates to fund mass housebuilding and the related infrastructure – a drive on a scale, he claims, not seen since the 1960s.
Question on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show about the change in tone from the Conservatives’ previous reluctance to borrow, Javid said that a distinction should be drawn between ‘vitally important’ deficit reduction and ‘investing for the future’ in housing and infrastructure.
‘So for example,’ he said ‘… you borrow more to invest in the infrastructure that leads to more housing – take advantage of some of the record-low interest rates that we have. I think we should absolutely be considering that.’
The communities secretary, who explained that he wanted the nation to build 300,000 new homes a year, admitted that government borrowing could be ‘the right thing if done sensibly’.
Responding to the news, Luke Tozer of Pitman Tozer said on Twitter: ‘Sajid Javid talking sense, at last. Finally the government seems to appreciate that investing in housing is investing in infrastructure.’
Fionn Stevenson, professor at the University of Sheffield School of Architecture, also on Twitter, said: ‘Ten years too late, but better late than never from this govt. State intervention in #housing market is only way fwd for this human right.’
Yesterday Javid also launched an eight-week review of housing, saying that he wanted to make the ‘home buying process cheaper, faster and less stressful for those involved’.
He said he was calling on the industry to offer solutions to the home-buying and selling process, in particular:
- Gazumping – Buyers are concerned about gazumping, with sellers accepting a higher offer from a new buyer, we will look at ways this could be tackled.
- Building trust and confidence – Mistrust between parties is one of the biggest issues faced, we want to look at schemes including ‘lock-in agreements’. Although 1 million homes are bought and sold in England each year, around a quarter of sales fall through and hundreds of millions of pounds are wasted, we want to increase confidence in the housing chain
- Informing customers – How to provide better guidance for buyers and sellers, by encouraging them to gather more information in advance so homes are ‘sale ready’
- Innovation – You can now search for a home online, but the buying process is too slow, costing time and money so we’re looking for innovative digital solutions including making more data available online
Comments on extra government borrowing
8years of almost zero interest rates.. it's amazing that Government now realising that investment in housing will be good for the country.— Andy Downey (@Downey_Andy) October 23, 2017
Ten years too late, but better late than never from this govt. State intervention in #housing market is only way fwd for this human right.— Fionn Stevenson (@fionnstevenson) October 22, 2017
Make them affordable and keep them affordable. Keep hold of housing, don’t supply the private landlords of the future through Right2Buy— Dinah Bornat (@dbornat) October 23, 2017
Sajid Javid talking sense, at last. Finally the government seems to appreciate that investing in housing is investing in infrastructure.— Luke Tozer (@PitmanTozer) October 22, 2017
begs the question why so long for obvious conclusion - troubling that right to buy and LA caps still on the cards https://t.co/UWA0AkgIkX— Arita Morris (@aritamorrisCGL) October 23, 2017
A small step in the right direction but the housing crisis is urgent and we hope that a more innovative long-term proposal will follow.— Alan Wright (@Alanatbptw) October 23, 2017
Housing is part of the essential infrastructure that this country needs to prosper. Govt investment could be a game-changer @theTCPA— Kate Henderson (@KateTCPA) October 23, 2017