More House Construction Needed in the UK
As the Second World War came to an end, it became clear where domestic policies must prioritise, notably in providing new homes.
For the duration of the war, house construction had all but stopped, and bombing had left a sizeable proportion of urban housing damaged or destroyed.
In addition, much Victorian housing was considered inadequate, unsanitary and overcrowded and consequently tagged for slum clearance.
Regardless of material shortages, building houses began again in earnest, through the conversion of war time production industries, prefabricated housing and the Ministry of Works, between 1945 and 1951 some 1.2 million houses were built.
The birth of the Welfare state meant more than the National Health Service, it also insisted on the creation of more and better quality council housing.
The 1950s saw supplies of materials increase and the country’s economy beginning to climb, and council house building boomed for the decade, creating around 250,000 per year.
The private sector also saw an awakening and huge new areas in towns considered satellite to London, such as Braintree, Swindon and Letchworth were built on, new towns such as Hemel Hempstead and Milton Keynes, were constructed with a combination of both council and private builds.
Throughout the ‘60s, builders were producing up to 400,000 houses per year. The rate of construction of over 300,000 units was kept up until the financial slumps of the ‘80s and ‘90s when the rate dropped dramatically.
Since the new millennium house prices have soared and supply has stuttered to a low in 2010 of 102,570, the lowest level during peacetime since 1923, according to communities and local government.
Another dubious achievement was attained in 2012-13, with a post war low of 135,500 houses built. The knock on effects for the housing market and estate agents can be extreme, as the limit of supply slows house sales to a snails pace, causing job losses and office closures, especially for prolonged periods. Read more here.
With a burgeoning population and shrinking house production, inevitable property price rises have soared upwards and continue to do so.
One of the great privatisation movements of the Thatcher era saw councils stopping building houses completely, council tenants give the right to buy their houses, and housing associations picking up social housing construction, along with an increase in private sector builds.
This, it seems is when the numbers of houses being built began to fall below the necessary levels. Government cuts in social housing have led to paltry numbers of housing association new builds, these on government insistence that new build projects will include a small number of affordable houses per development.
There are reportedly around some 2 million people on the social housing waiting register in England.
Land shortages, planning permission issues, brownfield problems, green-field problems, material shortages, skilled labour shortages, these are important issues, but by far the most important issue of them all, is that many more new houses must be built, starting now.