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Starter homes will only help the wealthy, says FPH

The Government has today (4/1/2017) announced that the first groups of discounted starter homes for first time buyers will be built this year in 30 English local authorities. These properties will be offered at a discount of at 20% of market value.

While the Faculty of Public Health (FPH) welcomes any investment aimed at addressing the housing crisis in our country and support for first time buyers, this programme is unlikely to make a meaningful impact and does little to help those in most need.

Shelter’s analysis of the national programme showed that the majority of people on the National Living Wage or average wages will be unable to afford the proposed discounted cost. Indeed, it won’t help many people on higher than average wages in many areas of England. The biggest beneficiaries would seem to be those already with relatively high incomes - people who should be able to afford on the open market without government assistance.

It is sobering to read today’s report of the Citizen’s Advice survey which shows the dramatic rise in the number of families with children living in privately rented accommodation.

The survey also found that almost 1.5 million people are subject to tenancies of six months or less.

FPH agrees with Shelter that the only long-term solution to the UK's housing shortage is to build more affordable homes, both for renting and purchasing. This requires a portfolio of policies, investments and actions including:

  • increased central government investment
  • innovative approaches to securing and delivering cheaper land
  • empowering local authorities to build social housing especially where Starter Homes are not affordable
  • enabling the conversion of empty retail and office buildings into homes where appropriate
  • ensuring the planning process encourages, rather than unnecessarily restricts, home building
  • increasing the scale and diversity of the home building industry to encourage competition and output
  • enabling and incentivising the release of public land for house building
  • wider and more effective use of Compulsory Purchase Orders for housing development.
  • the reclassification of local authority housing debt as investment by public bodies.

Written: 04/01/2017 , last modified: 09/01/2017