Foreword from the Prime Minister
The Government is determined to build a stronger, fairer Britain where people who work hard are able to get on in life. That means breaking down barriers to progress by taking the big, difficult decisions that are right for Britain in the long term.
Our broken housing market is one of the greatest barriers to progress in Britain today. Whether buying or renting, the fact is that housing is increasingly unaffordable – particularly for ordinary working class people who are struggling to get by.
Today the average house costs almost eight times average earnings – an all-time record. As a result it is difficult to get on the housing ladder, and the proportion of people living in the private rented sector has doubled since 2000.
These high housing costs hurt ordinary working people the most. In total more than 2.2 million working households with below-average incomes spend a third or more of their disposable income on housing.
This means they have less money to spend on other things every month, and are unable to put anything aside to get together the sums needed for a deposit. Those who do own their own home are finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with the mortgage, and struggle to save for later life. And many worry about the ability of their children and grandchildren to afford their own home and to have access to the same chances in life that they have enjoyed.
I want to fix this broken market so that housing is more affordable and people have the security they need to plan for the future.
The starting point is to build more homes. This will slow the rise in housing costs so that more ordinary working families can afford to buy a home and it will also bring the cost of renting down.
We need to build many more houses, of the type people want to live in, in the places they want to live. To do so requires a comprehensive approach that tackles failure at every point in the system.
First, we need more land for homes where people want to live. All areas need a plan to deal with the housing pressures they face and communities need a say in the homes that are built. We will require all areas to have up-to-date plans in place and ensure that communities are comfortable with how new homes look.
Second, we need to ensure that homes are built quickly once planning permissions are granted. We will invest in making the planning system more open and accessible, improve the co-ordination of public investment in infrastructure, support timely connections to utilities, and tackle unnecessary delays. We’re giving councils and developers the tools they need to build more swiftly.
Third, we will diversify the housing market, opening it up to smaller builders and those who embrace innovative and efficient methods. We will encourage housing associations and local authorities to build more, and we will work to attract new investors into residential development including homes for rent.
Finally, because building the homes we need will take time, we will also take more steps to continue helping people now, including by improving safeguards in the private rented sector, and doing more to prevent homelessness and to help households currently priced out of the market.
By building the homes Britain needs and giving those renting a fairer deal, we will give those growing up in society today more chance of enjoying the same opportunities as their parents and grandparents. It will ensure that the housing market is as fair for those who don’t own their own homes as it is for those that do. This is a vital part of our Plan for Britain and a critical step along the road towards fulfilling the mission I have set out to make Britain a country that works for everyone.
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP