Housing announcements in Prime Minister’s recovery speech

02 July 2020

Boris Johnson launched his ‘build, build, build’ approach to social and economic recovery in a speech on 30 June, and included a significant focus on housing. 

The key housing announcements he made were:

  • A commitment to build 180,000 affordable homes for ownership and rent over the next 8 years. MHCLG have since confirmed that the £12.2bn over five years announced at Budget is unchanged.
  • A 1,500 pilot of First Homes to be included in the Affordable Homes Programme (AHP).
  • Changes to planning, including allowing more commercial buildings to change to residential use and allowing homeowners to extend upwards via a fast-track approval process.
  • A planning policy paper to be published in July setting out ‘a plan for comprehensive reform of England’s planning system’
  • A commitment to look at how land owned by the government can be managed more effectively, with a new, ambitious strategy to be published before the spending review. 
  • An additional £450m for the Home Builders Fund to help smaller developers access finance for new housing developments, which will deliver around 7,200 homes.
  • Confirmation that the £400m for building on brownfield sites announced in the March Budget will support around 24,000 homes, and will be allocated to the West Midlands, Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, Liverpool City Region, Sheffield City Region, and North of Tyne and Tees Valley combined authorities.

We’ve welcomed the Prime Minister’s focus on housing and the commitment to look at public land use, but raised concerns that relaxing planning laws could lead to poorer quality homes. We also called for more detail on - and a strong commitment to - social rented homes as part of the AHP.

We spoke with the Housing Minister, Chris Pincher, after the Prime Minister’s speech and emphasised the urgent need for clarity over the new programme. We also made the case for flexibility in the current programme and the vital role social rent should play as part of the affordable housing mix. 

We’ve been engaging closely with ministers and officials over the past few months on the AHP, including holding a roundtable with the Housing Minister, meeting officials from Number 10, Treasury and MHCLG, writing to the Chancellor, and more. We will now build on this engagement to press for more detail on the AHP and the planning reform, as well as work to mitigate any risks. We will update members when we know more. 

Through our Homes at the Heart campaign, we will also continue to work with members to build a strong case for transformational investment in social housing to be at the heart of the national recovery.