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Urgent need to ‘reshape Britain’s housing mix’

Gavin Barwell MP has been warmly welcomed by various property industry professionals to his new role as housing minister, but is now being urged to get down to business ASAP in order to urgently address the growing UK housing crisis.

The latest UK house price data from the Office of National Statistics and Land Registry shows that home prices rose by an average of 8.1% in the year to May 2016, continuing strong growth in the housing market, largely as a result of the severe housing shortage across Britain.

But as Theresa May begins her term in office with new housing minister Gavin Barwell, there is an opportunity for a new approach to tackling the housing shortage, according to the director of Search Acumen, Andy Sommerville.

He said: “Housebuilders need confidence in order to get on with what they are good at - building homes – and further planning reform is one way to achieve this, something which must stay on the agenda despite Brexit. 

“Although transaction activity could slow or fall over the next few months as the impact of uncertainty around Brexit is reflected in the number of deals going through, conveyancers have an opportunity to take a deep look at their business and how they can increase productivity. Doing this now may pay dividends later in the year.”

Yesterday, David Cox, managing director of ARLA, and Mark Hayward, managing director of the NAEA, issued a joint statement also calling on the Conservative MP to ‘reshape Britain’s housing mix’ to help resolve the growing supply-demand imbalance in the market.

“We would like to congratulate Gavin on his new appointment and welcome him to his new role,” the pair said in their statement. “This is a crucial time for housing, with demand greatly outstripping supply.” 

ARLA and the NAEA worked closely with the previous administration to increase transparency in the UK property and sector and remain very supportive of the need for a beneficial ownership register, and with property transparency a particular problem in London where housing stock has increasingly become a vehicle for money laundering operations, Haywrad and Cox have commended the decision to provide the minister with a duel oversight for London.

“Despite this, Gavin will have a lot on his in-tray and a number of key concerns still exist in the sector, they said, adding: “The government’s decision to sell the Land Registry risks reversing its good work on transparency and we call on the new minister to work with the new Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Department to think again on this proposal.

“Secondly, it is also essential that Gavin honours the commitment of his predecessor to bring forward a review of the need for mandatory Client Money Protection (CMP) for letting agents, following the discretionary powers that were brought in as part of the Housing and Planning Act. Only this can provide the adequate level of protection for landlords and tenants alike.

“These challenges are not insurmountable and we greatly look forward to working with the new Minister to find a solution to these issues in the months and years ahead.”

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