Fixing our broken housing market

Tuesday 07-03-2017 - 10:44

We need triumphant leaps, not baby steps, from this year's housing white paper.

At the beginning of February the government released a white paper ('Fixing our broken housing market') which proposes a range of England-only policies to tackle the high cost, poor quality and under-supply of housing across the country.

The proposed policies cover four main areas: encouraging efficient and strategic planning locally, speeding up housebuilding, reducing the market dominance of a few big private developers, and making homes (to rent and buy) more affordable for people now.

We have produced a briefing which explains the following:

  • The causes of the housing crisis
  • The proposed policies
  • How effective we think these approaches are
  • The potential impact on students in higher and further education, now and in the future
  • How to be involved in influencing the government on housing policy

In summary, we feel that these policies do not go far enough to tackle the enormity of the housing crisis that is already having an adverse impact on the life chances of young people.

NUS will respond to the consultation that accompanies the paper, in particular highlighting the following five priority asks:

  1. Include educational institutions and students’ unions in the planning of housing and infrastructure, taking into account the expansion of some higher education institutions and the structural changes affecting the further education sector.
  2. Require developers of purpose built student accommodation to demonstrate (i) the student need for the nature of accommodation so we can reduce the waste of land and investment in unaffordable luxury studio blocks, and (ii) that they are providing a proportion of affordable accommodation.
  3. Enable and incentivise local authorities to grant land to developers, or providers such as educational institutions, based on potential social and economic impact rather than the highest price offered.
  4. Make longer tenancies and affordable rent options available to a broader range of the population. Introduce a form of rent control especially in high demand areas.
  5. When letting agent fees are scrapped, ensure that this cost is not transferred to tenants in another way. Investigate and tackle the broad range of unfair methods practiced by landlords, particularly in areas of under-supply.

There are a number of ways you can feed into NUS’ wider influencing activity:

Option 1

Feedback to NUS on the five priority asks above. To shape our consultation response contact us by 1 April using the contact details in the briefing.

Option 2

Submit your own consultation response here. There are 38 questions, and we would recommend submitting answers to the questions that you feel are most relevant for your student community.

Option 3

Write or speak to your MP, ideally in partnership with your institution and other higher education and further education students’ unions in the same area. We have made a template letter to help, and there are communication tips included in the briefing.

This week the UN special rapporteur for housing, Leilani Farha, has released a report calling for governments to reclaim housing as a social good rather than a commodity. Her message is clear – housing is a fundamental human right. So join us in campaigning for affordable and decent housing for students and for all!



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