Home is where the heart is: the Building Societies Association launches a manifesto for change
The Building Societies Association has set out its priorities for government ahead of May’s general election.
The organisation launched
Housing at the Heart of Government: a Manifesto for change
at an event in parliament yesterday.
The release aims to stimulate a debate on how to tackle the failures in the UK housing market and contains five key asks of political parties.
Building societies in Britain have always played a central role in providing the first step on the housing ladder for aspiring homeowners.
However, the industry is concerned about the increasing shortfall in affordable properties and the impact that is having on families and communities.
Demand has consistently outstripped supply in the sector, with 2013 seeing only 109,000 completions in England; one of the lowest house building rates since 1923.
At the same time house prices continue to rise putting financial pressure first-time buyers, especially in London where the average amount paid for a home is £357,000; nine times the income of the average first-time buyer.
With this in mind the BSA is calling on politicians to take action.
Top of the agenda is the formation of a cross-party 15-year plan bringing together housing and infrastructure alongside a commitment to using money raised from Pensioner Bonds to help fund affordable homes initiatives.
The Association would also like to see a doubling of the size of the Custom build, SME builders and offsite construction sectors as well as measures to ensure that Local Authorities and Housing Associations are able to build homes.
A Housing Ministry with a Secretary of State in Cabinet able to bring together all necessary departments, should also be a priority for the next government, according to the BSA.
Commenting on the launch of the Manifesto, Chief Executive of the BSA Robin Fieth said: “The UK has been underbuilding for years and everything points to a system that no longer works. If we are not determined, things are only going to get worse. We welcome many of the housing initiatives announced by Government and other political parties in the run up to the election. However, what is desperately needed is a long-term housing strategy.
“As mortgage lenders, building societies have and continue to play their part in fulfilling Britain’s aspirations as a nation of home-owners. But housing finance alone will not solve the problem. For many the idea of owning a home is secondary to a secure place to live. We need a huge increase in the momentum of house building across a range of types and tenures if we are to have any hope of bridging the current supply and demand gap.
“From our research we know that Britons are increasingly open to alternative forms of building and diversity in the type of tenures the market can provide. However, little has been done by successive governments to support new initiatives and developments. Now is the time to think outside the box. We need a revolution in the provision of housing – in planning, construction and funding to ensure that we are able to build a better Britain.”
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