House of Lords Library

Availability and Affordability of Housing

Published Monday, October 9, 2017

This House of Lords Library briefing provides information in advance of the debate on 12 October 2017 in the House of Lords on the availability and affordability of housing.

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According to the Homes and Communities Agency, affordable housing can be defined as:

Affordable homes are defined in line with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), published 27 March 2012, as housing units (or traveller pitches and bed spaces when describing a shared dwelling such as a hostel) provided to specified eligible households whose needs are not met by the market.

As of July 2017, the average property price in the United Kingdom was £226,185. This represented an increase of £11,058 on the previous year. In the same period, the highest average property prices were in London at £488,729, whilst the lowest prices were in the North East of England at £132,999. In addition, England had the highest average property prices at £243,220, whilst Northern Ireland had the lowest with £128,650. According to the English Housing Survey 2015–16, households in the private rented sector had the highest housing costs. The survey revealed that in 2015–16, the average (mean) rent for private renters was £184 per week. In comparison, the average (mean) weekly mortgage payment for the same period was less than in the private rental sector at £159 per week. 

In order to increase both the supply of and affordability of housing in England, the Government has introduced a number of measures alongside legislation. This includes the Help to Buy scheme, Housing Infrastructure Fund, Home Building Fund and the Housing and Planning Act 2016. The Government has also sought views on a number of changes to planning policy and legislation, following the publication of their housing white paper in February 2017.

In its manifesto for the 2017 general election, the Conservative Party pledged to meet its 2015 commitment to deliver a million homes by the end of 2020, and half a million more by the end of 2022. In addition, the Party committed to delivering the measures outlined in the Fixing Our Broken Housing Market white paper. On 4 October 2017, the Prime Minister, Theresa May, made a speech to delegates at the Conservative Party conference. In the speech, Mrs May announced that the Government would be investing an additional £2 billion in affordable housing, which the Government contends could supply approximately 25,000 homes “at rents affordable for local people”. In contrast, the Labour Party pledged in its manifesto to build at least 100,000 council and housing association homes for rent or sale every year. In addition, Labour committed to establishing a Department for Housing, tasked with improving the “number, standards and affordability of homes”. In the Liberal Democrats’ manifesto for the 2017 general election, the Party pledged to reach a housebuilding target of 300,000 homes a year by 2022, including half a million affordable and energy-efficient homes.

Lords Library notes LLN-2017-0067

Author: Eren Waitzman

Topic: Planning

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