UK Housing White Paper: what is it?

The Housing White Paper was announced by Gavin Barwell, the housing minister, at the Conservative Party Conference in October last year.

The new Government wanted to investigate the housing market, calling it ‘broken’, and come up with ideas to boost development and help buyers and renters of every age and income.

A White Paper is a Government consultation – so it is full of ideas, to which the Government then invites responses from interested parties. It is less “consultant-y” than a Green Paper – in that the ideas are fairly well-formed, so it is definitely a statement of intent from the Government.

The White Paper will be concerned with just the English housing market as housing is an issue which is devolved.

It is expected to be released at 12.30pm today (February 7th)… after several delays. (Hence many references to the ‘long-awaited’ report.)

One of the key themes the Government needs to address is how to boost the supply of homes where they are needed most. Total net supply of housing in England was 189,000 in the year to April 2016. The Government recognises that while this marks progress from 2008 and 2009, the numbers need to rise still further – with some thinktanks calling for 300,000 new homes every year.

The White Paper is also expected to address retirement housing, affordable housing provision and pledge support for ‘Build-to-Rent’ – where large-scale investors are building blocks of rented apartments which will be professionally managed. This model is mature and successful in the US. It is also expected to address issues in the planning system as well as looking at renting alongside home ownership.

Keep checking the Knight Frank blog and twitter for commentary and analysis once the White Paper is published.

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