Gavin Barwell, the recently appointed Minister of State for Housing and Planning, has indicated the government’s intention to shift policy away from a focus on home ownership, towards the rental market.
Speaking at a major housing conference on 12 September 2016, Barwell stated that “we need to build more homes of every single type and not focus on one single tenure”. Additionally, Barwell suggested there would be a change of course from the government’s previous pledge to build 200,000 Starter Homes, hinting that other types of tenure may be included as part of the target for 2020 and signaling a firm shift away from a policy obsessed with home ownership.
Whilst it was acknowledged that people still have a desire to become home owners, Barwell cited the importance of the private rental sector if an overall increase in the supply of housing is to be achieved.
Although growth in bespoke rental markets has been impressive of late, Barwell highlighted the need to maintain and expand this progress if the government is to meet future housing demands.
The update in governmental approach, coupled with the ongoing policy to increase housing capacity, could be particularly beneficial to Britain’s growing ‘build-to-rent’ industry, where funding can be raised through institutional investors looking for long-term income streams. If the government is going to reach its 2020 housing aspirations, house-builders of this nature will have an important part to play delivering housing at the speed and scale that the government requires.
This is welcome news for the industry. Broadening the base of supply and widening the routes of delivery are widely considered to be the way forward. It remains to be seen whether this shift in policy will delay the final drafting of the Starter Homes Regulations, following the expiry of the public consultation on 30 June.