Briefing: Solutions for the Housing Shortage

By: Matt Griffith and Pete Jefferys  Published: July 2013


This paper examines the measures that could be taken to increase housing supply in the short to medium term – through immediately available policy levers and through more substantial reforms. It argues that neither the current housing market and supply chain, nor the current range of announced policy interventions, are capable of stimulating economic growth or delivering homes on the scale needed to meet current demand – let alone the backlog built up by decades of under supply. It looks at the range of alternative actions available and the balance of choices policy makers face.

Summary

England is now delivering fewer homes than in any peacetime year since the First World War, even before accounting for a much larger population and smaller households. As a result, the country faces a large and accumulating shortfall between the homes we need and the houses we are building – of approximately 100,000 to 150,000 homes a year. If we remain building at current levels, we build a million fewer homes than we need every seven years.

Failure on this level requires a radical response. This paper sets out the options for closing this housing shortage and improving our housing supply system. All of these options involve hard choices, significant changes and real costs. None are easy to deliver. Yet the worst option of all would be to do nothing. Inaction would be as much a choice as the more positive and creative options outlined in this paper. It would bring with it real consequences.