Government focus on demand heightening housing crisis

A new report has argued that the government’s focus on meeting market demand, rather than prioritise genuine local housing needs, is ‘perpetuating’ the housing crisis.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England’s (CPRE) new paper, Needless Demand, analyses current methods councils are using to plan for local housing and what is then being built. The paper explores the difference between ‘housing need’ and ‘housing demand’, contending that number is being prioritised in Whitehall over substance.

Needless Demand says the government should split need and demand, and thereby tackle the housing crisis more effectively. It calls for clearer definitions of ‘need’ and ‘demand’ to be applied to planning policy, and for councils to apply them to their housing targets and local plans. CPRE currently argues that government opinion that high-demand areas will have to accept more homes to improve the affordability of the housing market is ‘neither building the right homes, nor building them in the right places’.

Trinley Walker, housing policy adviser at CPRE, said: “When the government talks about meeting housing need, what it really means is catering for market demand in the overheated south east. Ministers have for too long shirked the responsibility to make sure we are building the right mix of housing across the country, including homes for first time buyers to social homes to rent.

“Flooding the market with executive homes in the home counties will do little to help a young family in Lancashire find a home to rent. We need to be clearer on what we are building and where, for young people and families and for our countryside. Continuing to conflate demand and genuine needs will simply perpetuate this ruinous housing crisis.”

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