Policy

Increasing the number of available homes

Issue

For decades, there have not been enough homes to meet the needs of our growing and ageing population. From 2009 to 2010, only 115,000 new-builds were completed in England – fewer than any year in peace time since the 1920s and nearly a quarter of a million homes in England have stood empty for more than 6 months.

The housing market is also one of the biggest casualties of the 2008 global credit crunch and the government’s priority has been to rectify a situation where lenders couldn’t lend, so builders couldn’t build and buyers couldn’t buy.

Actions

The government wants builders, investors and local councils to increase the supply of both new-builds and repurposed empty homes. The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) schemes listed here should act together to increase housing supply by:

  • removing unnecessarily complex regulations
  • providing finance for projects that can’t proceed without it
  • helping buyers who can’t afford to buy a home because they can’t afford the deposit

We’ve created a £570 million Get Britain Building investment fund for developers. This will help to build new homes on development sites that have stalled, haven’t started or are classified as being on hold.

We’ve identified enough formerly used, surplus public sector land to support up to 100,000 new homes and are looking to sell this quickly to help get Britain building. A 2010 report by property group, Savills estimated that this could add 1% to the output of the economy.

We’ve introduced the New Homes Bonus. This is a grant to local councils for increasing the number of homes and their use. We are also pursuing other actions to bring empty homes back into use.

We’re offering new loan guarantees for housing developers that are backed by government to encourage the building of more social and privately rented housing.

We’re also encouraging a wider range of investors to build houses for private rent with our Build to Rent Fund.

We’re providing a toolkit of support for locally led large-scale housing developments that have the capacity to provide tangible benefits to local communities, but are struggling to move forward because of current economic circumstances.

We’re currently consulting on reducing regulations on house builders to encourage more house building and local economic growth. And we’re offering finance options to self-builders from a specially created fund of £30 million.

We help community groups to build new homes through the Community Right to Build which became law on 6 April 2012. It is now easier to bring vacant and underused public land back into use through the Community Right to Reclaim Land.

We’re also promoting community-led design which should lead to more building schemes being approved by local councils.

We’re helping buyers with the NewBuy Guarantee scheme, which started in March 2012 and allows buyers to get a mortgage on a new-build homes with only a fraction of the deposit they would normally require. More than 70 housing developers and 6 major lenders now offer the scheme.

Councils can also use private finance initiatives for housing refurbishment and regeneration, where other grants or funding wouldn’t have been enough to make the changes needed.

Background

On 21 November 2011 we published ‘Laying the foundations: a housing strategy for England’. This explained our plans to reform the housing market, including measures to stimulate house building and bring empty homes back into use.

Who we’ve consulted

We ran a consultation on the design of New Homes Bonus between 12 November and 24 December 2010, receiving 470 responses. The final scheme design was published on 17 February 2011.

Each year, the government also consults local councils on the provisional allocations of New Homes Bonus, which are published towards the end of each calendar year.

Bills and legislation

The Community Right to Build was introduced by the Localism Act 2011. The Act means that more decisions about housing are taken locally.

Who we’re working with

DCLG works closely with the Home Builders Federation to find ways to encourage house building. We work with them on developing policy, particularly on NewBuy.

The Chartered Institute of Housing represents 22,000 housing professionals who work mostly in local councils, housing associations, arms-length management organisations and the private sector. They work with government to help ensure that housing policy takes into account the experience and expertise of their members.

The UK Green Building Council is a membership organisation campaigning for a sustainable built environment. We work with them to develop environmental building standards and regulations to achieve zero carbon targets.

We also work with the National Housing Federation to develop and deliver policy on housing.

The Homes and Communities Agency is the national housing and regeneration agency for England (other than in London). It plays an important role in increasing the supply of available homes, such as helping to bring empty homes and surplus public sector land back into use.

Help us improve GOV.UK

Please don't include any personal or financial information, for example your National Insurance or credit card numbers.