BLOG : New homes supply won't solve our housing challenge on its own

02 Mar 2016



The recent launch of the Redfern Review promises to produce an intelligent analysis of home ownership in the UK. Commissioned by shadow housing minister John Healey, this review – led by Taylor Wimpey chief executive Paul Redfern – has been prompted by the fact that in the long term, and specifically since the turn of the century, home ownership has been in decline.

The review starts from the not unreasonable premise that this decline is bad for the economy and social cohesion – while also acknowledging that high home ownership brings its own challenges.

But importantly for the UK housebuilding industry, this is not merely a review of housing supply. Supply is seen as just one of the five key factors driving the downward trend in home ownership – the others being the specific constraints on buying a first home, the effectiveness of transitions in home tenure, home ownership later in life and the impact of current policies.

This is a timely reminder that there are many aspects to the challenges facing the UK housing market. The current focus on the housebuilding industry to build more homes is understandable, but there is so much more required to solve the housing crisis.

This is backed up by the team behind the Lyons Housing Commission which has just updated its report, originally published in October 2014. This report did focus on supply as did this latest update. It includes five key recommendations for the government if it is going to meet its housebuilding commitments. It is indicative of the complexity of this market that the first recommendation is that the government needs to broaden its strategy beyond its focus on home ownership! The Lyons team is more into new ways of new homes delivery – more direct commissioning, encouraging the efforts of local authorities and bringing forward the role of the housing associations.

But again, there is a word of caution in the Lyons update about relying on the housebuilding industry alone to tackle the housing crisis – “The government’s commitments to building 1 million homes by 2020 simply won’t be achieved if the focus remains solely on the existing industry to build homes for private sale.”

Again, an important point and a timely reminder that there are many aspects to the housing debate. When looking at increasing housing supply, everyone has a role to play.

Richard Jones, head of residential at Arcadis, has long been saying that the only way to see a significant boost in housing numbers is for new players and new money to come into the sector. And in the March edition of Housebuilder he says: “I actually believe that we could be on the threshold of this happening.” He thinks that the private rented sector is starting to attract significant institutional investment that could see a boost in residential units.

Perhaps things are changing. Perhaps the Redfern Review and the Lyons update will help everyone to understand not only what needs to be done – but specifically what each part of the industry can realistically achieve. Perhaps then, new ideas will gain traction and housing supply will increase.

Perhaps. We will see.


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Ben Roskrow's previous blogs

A question of interpretation? - Jan 2017

Why is the communities secretary convinced the industry is landbanking despite evidence to the contrary? It is a damaging accusation that has consequences, argues Ben Roskrow


Holding our breath post Brexit - Sep 2016

Ben Roskrow looks at the phoney war following the EU vote and argues it is too early to assess the full impact of the Brexit decision. But it is a case of "so far, so good" for most builders and the outlook may yet be favourable 


Life after the Brexit vote - Jun 2016

Ben Roskrow accepts that the industry is in for a bumpy ride following the vote for the UK to leave the EU, but the fundamentals are still strong - we need new homes, so the future remains bright


A time of change for the housing industry - Apr 2016

Ben Roskrow says that the changes introduced over the past few months by the government are now starting to play out in the industry - and the effect was clear to see at the recent HBF Policy Conference


Danger ahead for industry - Nov 2015

The government and the opposition has thrown down the gauntlet to the industry to "get on and build". Explaining why this might not happen overnight could be a challenge for the industry, says Ben Roskrow


New skills needed to maintain quality - Apr 2015

As new home building increases, finding the right skills will become increasingly important. A nice problem to have, says Ben Roskrow, but one that needs tackling if high levels of customer satisfaction are to be maintained 


Happy days ahead for politicos - Feb 2015

The HBF Policy Conference in March will feature the Conservative housing minister, his Labour shadow and the LibDem housing spokesman - signs that election fever is on us and, as Ben Roskrow says, housing has a big role to play


What's in store in 2015? - Dec 2014

Ben Roskrow looks ahead to 2015, an election year of course. But what if there were two elections next year, as in 1974? What would that uncertainty do to the market and the economy


Our transfer window never closes - Sep 2014

Housebuilder's annual industry SWOT analysis reveals that skills shortages on site and in the office are the biggest threat to growth. Ben Roskrow says that the industry has a big job on to tackle this lack of talent


Our Awards reflect an industry of innovation - Jul 2014

The finalists have been announced for the Housebuilder Awards and the winners revealed for the Housebuilder Product Awards. Ben Roskrow argues that these Awards help the industry innovate and reward those who go the extra mile


Election countdown begins at HBF conference - Apr 2014

Housing minister Kris Hopkins and shadow housing minister Emma Reynolds laid out their vision for housing at the recent HBF Policy Conference. It seems the election campaign is already underway, says Ben Roskrow


Giving new homes a fair hearing - Jan 2014

Ben Roskrow despairs of the anti-developer tone of much of the media interest in the housebuilding industry, but finds solace in Kirsty and Phil on Location, Location, Location


Government delight as builders build - Sep 2013

The government has pinned its colours to increasing housebuilding - so it will be delighted, says Ben Roskrow, that the new Housing Market Intelligence Report launched on October 9 reveals the top builders are building more


The sun's shining - make hay - Jul 2013

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Help to Buy (part one) going well despite the critics - Jun 2013

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How many new housing starts in 2018? - Apr 2013

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New investors rewarded by Budget boost - Mar 2013

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Replacing the rungs on the Broken Ladder - Feb 2013

Ben Roskrow says that despite having their detractors, government initiatives to ease the mortgage market are starting to gain momentum and at present are the best hope to tackle the housing crisis


A flying start to 2013 - Jan 2013

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HMI charts the vagaries of the industry - Oct 2012

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Affordable housing crisis coming - Jun 2012

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Designer snobbery - Apr 2012

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The right to open our windows - Mar 2012

New research shows that people like the cost savings in their energy efficient new homes but that they are not fully embracing the sustainability adventure. Ben Roskrow says the industry should not be forced to build homes that folk won't buy


New regulations? Yes, minister - Jan 2012

Ben Roskrow argues that civil servants cannot resist introducing new regulations - despite promises to the contrary - as is proven by the latest wave of consultations to hit the housebuilding industry


Reasons to be cheerful - parts 1,2,3 - Dec 2011

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Time to sideline the selfish - Nov 2011

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A shame of a campaign - Sep 2011

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Excellence is well worth the effort - Jul 2011

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Make your mind up - May 2011

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What caused the Pickles prickles? - Apr 2011

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Lazy Legoland comments miss improvements in design - Mar 2011

Ben Roskrow argues that Grant Shapps' attacks on new home design were somewhat lazy. Whilst there is always room for improvement, new home design has improved significantly in recent years


Measuring the effect of the Coalition's housing policies - Jan 2011

The industry expressed concern that without targets there would be no way of measuring whether enough new homes were being built. Ben Roskrow looks at a new initiative that might just help


Don't be a Leicester City on Localism - Dec 2010

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Housebuilding's own Truman Show - Oct 2010

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Staying positive as storm clouds gather - Sep 2010

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Why the Borgias are good for innovation - Jun 2010

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A victory for gentle persuasion - Mar 2010

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A victory for gentle persuasion - Mar 2010

Ben Roskrow argues that those who dismissed the chancellor's Budget measures for the housebuilding industry as inadequate, are wrong, unrealistic and missing the point


What if Shapps is right? - Feb 2010

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A Tory plan for nimby heaven - Mar 2009

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Ring those bells - Feb 2009

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Blink and you'll miss it - Jan 2009

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Masters of missing the moment - Nov 2008

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Minister speech lifts industry at HMI - Oct 2008

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Time for realism - Sep 2008

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