Housebuilders call for more recognition from UK government

What will the new prime minister do for the housing market?

The property industry has a hefty wish list when it comes to what new prime minister Liz Truss could do to improve the sector.

As far as the new prime minister’s own property situation goes, she is now the inhabitant of the flat above Number 11 Downing Street, which received a controversial makeover by Liz’s predecessor Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie Symonds. 

Of course, top of the most pressing agenda for Liz Truss in the coming weeks and months will be finding ways to combat soaring energy bills and the rising cost of living in the UK, which is likely to send many households into difficulty.

But alongside this, the housing market at large is expected to be a priority for the new prime minister. Rising energy bills are directly linked to types of property stock, with the least energy efficient costing inhabitants the most, so many in the industry expect this to be a key focus. 

Interest rates are also expected to continue to increase, pushing up the cost of borrowing for mortgage-holders, while the private rented sector is also in need of addressing, according to market experts.

Housing and climate change

Gillian Charlesworth, CEO, Building Research Establishment, said: “The new UK government must ramp up its action on climate change – and central to this should be driving a green transition in the built environment. 

“We were pleased to see the newly appointed prime minister, Liz Truss, pledging to help people insulate their homes as the UK heads towards net zero. However, we will need to go much further if we are to fully decarbonise the UK’s building stock, which currently makes up a quarter of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions.”

He adds that ramping up the energy efficiency of the country’s buildings will bring energy bills down, so this should be a priority.

“This is why we are urging our new prime minister to publish a credible and effective plan to decarbonise our existing homes and buildings. At its core, this would set out a fully funded national retrofit strategy defining energy efficiency measures, such as insulation, for all UK households.”

Nathan Emerson, Propertymark’s chief executive, also believes the country needs a long-term plan in place when it comes to improving EPC ratings

“Propertymark is a strong advocate of making homes more energy efficient as the best solution to bringing down bills. However, it is unlikely that significant progress can be made until ministers better understand the current housing stock and then apply realistic targets based on properties’ individual characteristics with sustained funding for homeowners.”

Will this prime minister boost housing supply?

For many years now, government leaders have made moves to increase the number of homes available in order to stabilise the market and prevent sky-rocketing prices.

Simon Cox, managing director of Walter Cooper, says: “When it comes to housing, resolving the issues in planning needs to be one of the top items on the next prime minister’s agenda, and that will mean making some unpopular decisions. 

“Housing plays a major part in supporting the economy, and as we head into a predicted recession this will prove more important than ever. I’d therefore implore the new prime minister to work with those in the industry to provide support in promoting an ‘open for housebuilding’ agenda. 

“Truss may have pledged her commitment to removing planning restrictions in an attempt to boost housebuilding, but in abandoning the government target of building 300,000 houses a year, will her so-called ‘investment zones’ ever really come to fruition? 

“I’m not sure, but the fact of the matter is, as prices continue to rise due to a lack of supply, something needs to be done to increase the number of houses built in this country before home ownership becomes further out of reach for all but a select few.”

Revamping the mortgage market

Mortgage rates have been creeping up along with the Bank of England base rate, and this will be felt by many mortgage holders whose current fixed rates are coming to an end, or those on variable rates, as well as those seeking mortgages.

James Tucker, founder and CEO of Twenty7Tec, says: “One thing that I hope that our new prime minister gets right is to stop treating the housing and mortgage sectors as unrelated industries. MHCLG and Treasury need more joined-up thinking on how they work together.

“There’s a lot of rhetoric about housebuilding, yet even the recent report by the Land Registry into house buying barely touches on the element that makes the market work: mortgages.

“In my view, the government needs a fully functioning mortgage market in order to continue to deliver a healthy and vibrant housing market which contributes to the nation’s greater wealth.”

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