England’s housing market is broken, the government has admitted, with home ownership a “distant dream” for today’s young families, as it unveiled a white paper promising a fresh wave of home building.
Communities secretary Sajid Javid told the House of Commons that average house prices have jumped to 7.5 times average incomes and rents in many places swallow more than half of take-home pay.
He placed the blame almost entirely on low rates of house building, telling MPs that the number of home completions in England has been lower than anywhere else in Europe, relative to the population, for the last three decades.
Javid said house building needs to rise to 225,000 to 275,000 units a year compared with 190,000 built in 2016 and as little as 95,000 following the financial crisis.
“Our housing market is broken,” he told MPs. “We have to build more, of the right homes in the right places, and we have to start right now.”
Every local council will be forced to publish projections for local house building, developers will be forced to use-or-lose planning permission once granted, older people will be given incentives to move out of underused big homes, and tenants will be given extra protections.
But Labour’s shadow housing secretary John Healey MP condemned the white paper as “feeble beyond belief”.