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Let's say yes to new housing



I was pleasantly surprised by the level of interest which local people showed to the recent piece run in the Bath Chronicle: Rents set to soar, pricing workers out of Bath homes. It shows that, for many, housing supply and the impact it has on people’s lives is important. I, for one, say that’s to be welcomed.

In their recent publication – Home Truths 2012 - the National Housing Federation (NHF) has once again shone a light on the housing crisis. Pointing out, as they did, that nationally:

  • The cost of privately renting a home has risen by 37% in the past five years, and is set to soar a further 35% over the next six years. In five years that means they will be a third (29%) higher than they are now.
  • Private rents are likely to be fairly stable through 2013 but could see steep increases from 2015 to 2018 of around 6% a year as interest rates rise and house prices increase.
  • 417,830 more working people, an 86% increase since 2009, are now reliant on housing benefit to help them pay the rising rents on their home.
  • The weakness of the economy will see modest falls in house prices into 2013, but demand conditions will support renewed house price growth of 5-6% a year across England from 2015 to 2017.
  • In 2011, 390,000 new families were formed, but only 111,250 new homes were built.
  • House building starts will recover only gradually, from 100,000 homes this year to 140,000 in 2014, but increases will flatten out from around 2016/2017.

In the South West, things are equally bad. Between 2012 and 2020 rents in the region are predicted to rise by almost half (48%), with the average monthly rent moving from £661 in 2012 to £981 in 2020. This puts the South West fourth in the country. 

As a result of the gross level of under-supply, buying a home has progressively become more and more out of reach for ordinary people. Add to the mix limited mortgage supply and reductions to real income levels and you get what we have now: the perfect housing storm.

Who would have thought that renting a home would become as inaccessible as buying for large parts of society, including those who work?  Regrettably, it now looks like renting is heading that way and will become even more difficult for future generations.

This grim forecast is unacceptable and unsustainable. We need to keep communities together and provide homes for future generations. If we don’t we will destroy communities, polarise society further and lose talent and potential to other parts of the country.

Building new homes is the answer and we need to build them quickly. Our recent experience at Clutton (where plans to build 36 new homes have been refused) is an example of how logic can sometimes be overtaken by emotion. So often the need to provide homes for local people and their children is set aside by an argument that goes: “yes, we do need homes, but not here”.

The reality of preventing perfectly developable, good quality affordable housing schemes is that it penalises local people and their children – not “big business” or those from outside the district. Those who think they are doing something worthwhile when they prevent new homes should think again – not about themselves, but about other local people and society more generally.

That’s why we are calling on local people to engage further in this housing debate, to try and avert this perfect housing storm by signing up to the NHF’s “Yes to Homes” campaign, which Curo is backing.

The campaign has a simple and clear message: we need to build more homes, and you can help by saying yes to homes in your neighbourhood. This is your chance to do something for your community, your children and for our future generations.

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