Among the many unenviable tasks faced by the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, is delivering more housing to a population for whom 'getting on the property ladder' is becoming increasingly tough.

300,000 new homes a year?

The latest budget presented Mr Hammond with a big opportunity to encourage housebuilding nationwide. The UK's purse keeper wants 300,000 new homes built each year, a goal to which he has committed 44 billion pounds over the next half-decade. Mr Hammond also said five new garden towns would be built in the corridor between Oxford and Cambridge, which, he claimed, by 2050 would result in 1 million additional homes.

Stamp duty scrappage

However, at face value the most impressive of the Chancellor's announcements was the scrappage of stamp duty for first time buyers covering the first £300,000 of the price.

Critics suggest this move, together with others such as the Help to Buy deposit loan scheme, do little more than increase demand without addressing the real issue: that there are not enough houses being built. Indeed, the Office for Fiscal Responsibility has not, in the short-term, projected any substantial change in the housing market.

Tackling planning permission

Figures in academia and the construction industry often suggest that planning is where change is needed. In this area Hammond promised an urgent review of the often-large periods between when planning permission is given and when building begins. The Chancellor has threatened the use of compulsory purchase powers if the situation does not improve.

Loosening the greenbelt?

But many argue these moves are insufficient. Christian Hilber, a professor of economic geography at the London School of Economics, has suggested limited housing supply in the UK is largely down to the existence of a London greenbelt, as well as restrictions on how high buildings can be.

As regards the near-sacrosanct greenbelt, some estimates suggest opening up just 2 per cent of this area could make way for half a million additional homes.

Local authority powers

Giving local authorities more power to build homes - in part by allowing them to borrow more - has also been championed as an effective way to boost the housing supply.

The political component

It has been suggested that any perceived lack of big ideas from the government could come down to politics: many voters for the incumbent party already own homes, and do not want to see measures that will see prices fall. After all, elevated house prices, alongside limited housing stock, are central to the nation's housing woes.


Naturally, Brexit is and will have a significant role to play in the future of UK housing. Numerous economists believe the nation’s exit from the EU will put severe pressure on the housing market – which would mean a fall in prices. However, others suggest that because household incomes are likely to dip post-Brexit, buying power would be diminished, resulting in no meaningful change.

And then there's the question of who is going to build the homes. EU mainland residents account for nearly one in 10 construction worker jobs in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics. In London, the figure is believed to be significantly higher. With recent news that EU migration fell by a third in the 12 months after the Brexit vote, house builders could find themselves without the necessary workers to carry on building at the current rate, let alone any future time when 300,000 new homes are being built annually.

The UK’s housing crisis is as complex as ever, and those intent on buying a property will no doubt be carefully watching how Mr Hammond’s policies play out.