UK Politics

Housing report critical of government 'short termism'

Building site
Image caption Politicians must "raise their game" and shape a long-term consensus on how housing matters, Rics said

Successive governments have failed to produce a coherent long-term strategy for housing, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has said.

In a report, the Rics housing commission said some of the coalition's policies were providing short-term help for the house-building industry.

But it argued that ministers' lack of consistency over the past 50 years has exacerbated the failures of the market.

The government said it was cleaning up the mess left by its predecessor.

But Labour's Jack Dromey said the coalition had failed to prevent the "biggest housing crisis in a generation".

The Rics study concluded that the housing market has not delivered enough homes at affordable prices.

It welcomed the government's Help to Buy scheme - which lends people up to 20% of the value of a new-build home - but called for further action to increase the supply of properties.

'Unintended consequences'

The housing commission's report recommended doubling the current target of 100,000 new homes on publicly owned land, and said builders should be made to start work within three years of acquiring planning permission.

"Governments must increase the scale of their ambitions to match the scale of the challenges," it said.

There had been a "near disappearance of government-funded research on housing since 2010", the Rics study added.

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Media captionRob Warm, National Housing Federation: "We simply aren't building enough houses"

It called for the creation of an independent committee to advise politicians from all parties on housing supply, and a new body bringing together private-sector and academic research on housing.

Better co-ordination is needed between housing ministers in Westminster and their counterparts in the devolved institutions, which are largely responsible for housing policies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, Rics argued.

It also said ministers "must carefully review the introduction of their welfare reform measures and... be vigilant that the unintended consequences do not outweigh any benefits".

In particular, the under-occupancy penalty on housing benefit claimants in social housing deemed to have surplus bedrooms should not apply where the tenants are unlikely to find alternative suitable accommodation in the area, it said.

Rics also criticised the Right to Buy scheme - under which council housing tenants can buy their homes at a discount - which it said "frequently reduces the supply of affordable rented homes in a locality", and called for it to be replaced.

Housing minister Mark Prisk said the government was "fixing all areas of the dysfunctional housing market it inherited".

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