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The Chartered Institute of Housing is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards

UK Housing Review Autumn Briefing Paper warns of lack of readiness for post-COVID housing needs


The UK Housing Review’s Autumn Briefing Paper, published on 5 October 2020, warns that the UK is ill-prepared to deal with housing needs that have been made worse during the pandemic and that it is young households who will suffer most.

“Without doubt younger households are bearing the brunt of the reworking of the housing market (and of the economy),” the Briefing Paper says, “despite measures to support first-time buyers.”

The Briefing Paper argues that while housing costs (rents and mortgage repayments) have not increased as steeply as in years past, incomes are also not increasing, causing significant problems. Many households wanting to become homeowners may pay less for their mortgages, but are unable to save the deposit they need. In the rented sector, the large number of individuals faced with unemployment or reduced earnings may find it impossible in the future to pay the rents they could cope with before the pandemic.

The Briefing Paper also says:

• The Westminster government does not yet have investment plans that address the scale of housing need now emerging.

• Governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are in the same position – held back in part because of delays in setting the UK Budget

• While massive investment is needed in social rented housing, the ability of social landlords to invest is affected by their financial capacity and the continuing calls on their resources to make the housing stock safe from fire.

• The government’s carbon targets require 1.2 million homes to be made energy-efficient each year, but the target cannot be met with current resources and without government commitment.

• Measures to protect tenants during the pandemic have worked so far, but there is a risk of a massive increase in evictions and homelessness over the coming months.

• Rough sleeping has been tackled successfully during the pandemic, but this success is at risk unless measures are taken to help those with no access to benefits.

• The changes to welfare benefits during the crisis have highlighted the severe impact of the benefit cap which prevents many households from getting the help they need.

CIH chief executive Gavin Smart said:

“When we released the 2020 UK Housing Review earlier this year, we made it clear that the pandemic would highlight the need for more homes that are genuinely affordable, and our analysis in the Autumn Briefing Paper shows just that. While we need more homes of all kinds, we particularly need homes at lower ‘social’ rents, support for home ownership must not happen at the expense of truly affordable social housing.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown has, more than ever, highlighted the importance of having a place we can call home - a place where we feel safe and secure – and we need to ensure that for all of our population.”

Mark Stephens, the Review’s editor, said:

“Early government and market responses to the pandemic have largely been effective in keeping people in their homes. But it is now clear that we are in this for the long haul and the next six months will be a real test of government commitment and market resilience. Meanwhile, it is important to plan for a country which will have experienced permanent changes in the labour market.”

Please click here to download the UK Housing Review Autumn Briefing Paper.

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