Today (Sunday 23rd September 2018), Emoov founder, CEO and property expert, Russell Quirk, will present his solution to the current housing crisis at the Labour Party Conference.

Russell will lead a panel discussion hosted by Labour group Progress and will be joined by Shadow Secretary of State for Housing John Healey MP, Guardian columnist Dawn Foster and Peter Mason the Cabinet member for housing, planning and transformation at the London Borough of Ealing.

Held in the Martin King Building of the Museum of Liverpool between 12:45 pm – 2.00 pm, the panel will be chaired by Stephanie Lloyd, Deputy Director of Progress and is titled ‘Home is where the heart is: can we solve Britain’s housing crisis?’.

Russell will be unveiling his proposal, one that he previously put to the Conservative party and trialled himself with great success while serving as a councillor at Brentwood Council in Essex.

The Issue

Currently, the government are failing to build their annual target of 300,000 homes by quite some margin and housing remains disproportionately expensive to the average home buyer’s earnings.

Social and affordable housing has also all but disappeared and there is a shift in living habits as 28% of our 27 million households are now single occupier – up 16% since 1997.

This is causing resentment towards the two main political parties in particular amongst a generation of home buyers priced out of the market.

While the planning process remains protracted, there also remains a political unwillingness to unlock the less attractive parts of the green belt, the culture of NIMBY-ism is causing local politicians to concentrate on their short-term image and not their consistencies long term housing needs and there are also construction and labour constraints.

But the biggest issue is the big house builders. Their stranglehold on the supply of land and housing is keeping prices rising alongside their profits and the friction point of land banking will see this continue.

 

The Solution – Help to Build

The solution is to sidestep the bottleneck and provide an alternative – Help to Build via the UK Housing PLC.

There is already a Formal Asset Register to aid in identifying publicly owned land assets at a local and national level – of which the government currently control 180,000.

By introducing secondary legislation this should be turned into an up to date database which local authorities and government then use and commit to a plan to build using those assets.

This would bring the launch of the first publicly owned housing developer – UK Housing PLC.

It would be run as a private enterprise with the government and taxpayer as its shareholders but with an experienced C-suite from the private sector to run it properly and profitably.

The land supply would come through the plan to build database and the entity itself would decide what housing is needed in each area by type, tenure and geography over a five-year plan.

This would allow them to build, and profit, with the full developed land value repaid to the local authority in question on completion of the sale.

The risk is mitigated as the land is already owned by the government and it would also allow them to be in control of shared ownership delivery and the targets that need to be met.

I know that this process is viable as during my time as the chairman of Brentwood Council’s Asset Committee I implemented it successfully on a local level. I identified the land, incepted development plans, gained the planning permission and tendered to sell.

We had control of how many of the properties were affordable and I planned to retain some of the dwellings under council control for the rental sector for continued revenue – although the majority of my other less forward-thinking colleagues at the time voted against it.

Help to Build doesn’t replace the big house builders, they are free to peddle their wares as they see fit and do so currently. But we cannot allow the issue of supply to rest solely with them and their engineered restriction of housing stock. We have the land, the resource and a model that facilitates the delivery while ensuring our councils don’t lose out financially. We have the solution, we just need to implement it.

Russell Quirk

Founder and CEO , Emoov.co.uk

If you would like to see Russell’s presentation for today, you can take download it below.

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