Question Time debate discusses residential housing

In June 2017 the RICS issued a discussion paper entitled: “a shake up is required in the residential sector”, in reaction to points raised at a residential Question Time debate in London, with a panel of five respected residential professionals.

Boosting productivity using modern methods of construction

The current shortfall in the residential housing supply could be helped by the wider adoption of modern construction methods, including building part or entire houses off site using methods such as cross-laminated timber and prefabricated rooms. This would also address the quality issues which have recently raised concern.

The Farmer Review has forecast a reduction in workforce of up to 25 per cent over the next ten years. A boost in productivity through modern methods of construction may be the only way current needs can be met.

Government support of modern methods is required in order to boost investment so that these construction methods can positively impact the shortfall of affordable housing.

Ending Right to Buy

Rent to Buy continues to deplete social housing stock, as councils fail to replace homes sold under the scheme.

The Commons Communities and Local Government Select Committee estimated in 2016 that 40 per cent of ex-council flats sold through statutory Right to Buy had become private rental properties. The figure may since have risen to 50 per cent, and the Question Time debate agreed that the Right to Buy scheme must end.

The more expensive rental costs being financed by tenants and Housing Benefit are effectively a consequence of properties being sold at a discount by councils. The debate concluded that everyone was losing out – with the exception of the landlord.

Long-term housing strategy

The lack of coordination in government housing policy was criticised, in particular the lack of focus on long term housing need, and the fact that this is sometimes counteracted by short term initiatives.

The debate called for an effective long term strategy that would improve the supply of affordable homes and the current housing crisis.