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Barwell: Government softening commitment to starter homes and promising greater support for PRS

In an article published in Property Week today, Gavin Barwell, our newest Planning Minister, has indicated that the Government is considering rowing back from its target of delivering 200,000 Starter Homes by the end of 2020. 

Given that the Starter Homes Regulations have yet to be published, we are already in 2016 and no "official" starter homes have yet been built;  this could be seen as pragmatic. Nonetheless, it is a significant change of approach for DCLG for whom Starter Homes had been previously been a flagship policy.

In the same article, Barwell indicated that more affordable homes of all tenures would be required to tackle the housing crisis and that the private rented sector would be vital if targets were to be met. Whilst this re-commitment to encouraging more institutional investment into PRS is likely to be widely welcomed; it will be interesting to see what practical steps are taken to achieve it.  A new housing stimulus package is widely rumoured to be announced in the Autumn Statement; perhaps some of it could it be aimed at PRS?

“It’s obviously a manifesto commitment that we have, what I’ve got to look at is can we have a wider range of products in terms of affordable housing, and not just say that the only thing that qualifies is this one [tenure type],” he said. “The way you make housing in this country more affordable to rent and more to buy is you build more homes....

Barwell insisted that he would not “fundamentally shift” policy away from ownership ... but the private-rented sector will prove “so important” to solving the housing crisis ... .“I’m very clear that our ambitions will never be achieved without significant boost in institutional investment to the PRS, to ensure more choice and quality for people living in rented accommodation.””