The government’s new White Paper on ‘fixing Britain’s broken housing market’ is released this afternoon, but what does it really mean for first-time buyers, renters and homeowners in the UK?
Amid all the bluster, the long-awaited document primarily focuses on freeing up land and building regulations to allow for thousands of new homes to be built.
This includes auditing and forcing local councils to meet ambitious targets, encouraging small firms to build 25,000 new homes by 2020 and adopting a ‘use it or lose it’ attitude to house builders sitting on undeveloped land.
There are also minor changes to the upcoming Starter Homes Initiative, the promise of a consultation on leasehold abuse and confirmation that the Lifetime Isa slated for April will go ahead as planned.
New-build homes: more promises to ‘get Britain building’
Housing minister Gavin Barwell says there is ‘no silver bullet’ to solve Britain’s housing issues, and the message from today’s White Paper is very much one of evolution rather than revolution.
Conservative manifesto promises to build over 200,000 starter homes by the end of parliament appear to have been reined in, with the focus now on ‘helping over 200,000 people become home owners’ through a range of initiatives across housing tenures.
Previous announcements have focused on new housing schemes and funding. The White Paper, however, is full of plans to encourage house building. These include:
- Councils will be able to issue ‘completion notices’ to developers to make them start building with two years rather than three
- Small firms will be offered loans to help them build 25,000 new homes by 2020
- Councils must come up with a five-year housing plan, and will face an annual audit to ensure they are hitting targets
- Despite rumours to the contrary, green belt land will continue to be protected
Find out more: new-build homes – learn about the pros and cons of buying brand new in our guide
Starter Homes Initiative: income caps introduced
The government will set income caps for buyers using the upcoming Starter Homes Initiative.
The initiative will allow first-time buyers under the age of 40 to buy a house with a 20% discount on market rates.
Buyers using the scheme, which is set to be piloted in 30 local authorities later this year, now won’t be able to have an income of more than £90,000 in London, or £80,000 elsewhere in the UK.
Find out more: Starter Homes Initiative – get to grips with the discounts, eligibility and where the first Starter Homes will be built
Housing White Paper: other key announcements at a glance
The government will launch a consultation on ‘abusive’ leasehold arrangements where owners face excessive service charges and ground rents.
So far no specifics have been announced about how a new Rent to Buy scheme will work, but the government has confirmed that the £1.4bn fund announced in the Autumn Statement will help boost both Rent to Buy and the Affordable Homes Programme.
The Lifetime Isa announced in the 2016 Budget will go ahead from April 2017, offering savers a 25% bonus on their contributions (of up to £4,000 a year) when they buy a house.