Blog Post

What could the next government do on housing in its first 100 days?

Rachael Williamson, Head of policy and external affairs at Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) lays out what the next government could do in its first 100 days to tackle the housing crisis.

The next government will inherit many social and economic challenges, with housing a significant part of the solution. At CIH we’re calling for a long-term housing plan, backed by targets to meet housing needs. We set out our proposals in our Homes at the Heart strategy and 10-point plan, published last autumn.  

While many of the reforms needed will require consultation and time to implement, there are some important actions the next government can take within the first 100 days of its tenure.  These would come with little to no cost, are quickly implementable, have an immediate impact, and set the tone for more ambitious reforms.  

We propose five immediate priorities, some of which are touched on in Labour’s manifesto:  

  1. Releasing public consultations on the Decent Homes Standard (DHS) and Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) in social housing, laying the groundwork for sector investment and improvements in quality, decency, and energy efficiency.
    The review of the DHS and examination of options for MEES have been ongoing for several years. Social housing providers have invested significantly in improving the quality and energy efficiency of their homes, but with no guarantee that improvements will meet higher regulatory standards.  Releasing these consultations would provide the sector with certainty on the government’s intention to introduce firm, stable regulation of social housing quality, unlocking more investment, and lay the groundwork for appropriate funding arrangements to support the sector to meet the new requirements. It would also provide social housing tenants with confidence that driving up standards is a firm priority.
  2. Reviewing the current DLUHC capital spending programme to identify unproductive spending areas and redirect investment towards social rent housing.
    Analysis published in CIH’s latest UK Housing Review (UKHR) reaffirms the need for a total supply of 300,000 new homes per annum, including 60,000-70,000 social rented units per annum in the initial period. From 2030, this should rise to around 350,000 new homes per annum, of which 90,000 should be for social rent.   In the UKHR’s assessment of all forms of government support for new housing investment between 2021/22 to 2024/25, comprising £41 billion in total, slightly more than half (51%) was directed towards the private market and 49% for affordable housing. This totals around £5 billion of investment pa for the private market. Whilst comparisons cannot be made strictly on a like-for-like basis, capital support for affordable housing supply is much higher in Scotland (90%), Wales (82%) and Northern Ireland (100%). The next government should provide a much-needed boost to affordable housing supply by rebalancing DLUHC’s capital spending and allocating a more significant proportion of the programme to social rented homes. This would have little to no effect on overall government spend.  
  3. Publishing the technical consultation on the implementation of M4(2) accessibility standards for new homes, providing certainty to housing developers that they will be required to meet new standards from April 2025.  
    In September 2020, DLUHC consulted on raising accessibility standards in new homes. In July 2022, it confirmed its intention to mandate the current M4(2) (Category 2: Accessible and adaptable dwellings) requirement in Building Regulations as a minimum standard for all new homes, subject to further consultation on draft technical details.  This has significant cross-sector support in the housing, health, and built environment sectors. In March 2024, the Building Safety Regulator said the draft technical details would be published for consultation before the summer recess. Reviewing and publishing the draft details for consultation would give certainty to developers that M4(2) will be the standard they are required to build to from April 2025, and signal to disabled people that improving the accessibility of new homes is a priority.
  4. Reducing discounts under the Right to Buy scheme (RTB) and allowing councils to set the discount rate in their area, stemming the loss of social housing and providing the government with space to examine longer-term options.
    Research by Savills estimates 100,000 homes are likely to be sold through RTB by 2030, with just 43,000 replaced as high discounts leave councils without funding to replace homes on a like-for-like basis. RTB can play an important role in enabling families to get on the housing ladder, but only if sufficient progress is made towards housebuilding targets to ensure it does not result in a net loss of social homes.  The long-term future of RTB requires more detailed policy thinking and public consultation, but the next government could take immediate steps to stem the flow of social homes into the private rented and owner occupied sectors by freezing current discount levels, preventing them from rising with inflation, and enabling councils to set the discount rate in their area according to local discretion.
  5. Implementing the measures committed to in the Supported Housing (Regulatory Oversight) Act 2023 and exploring long-term funding options for supported housing to provide much-needed accommodation for vulnerable groups.
    The Supported Housing (Regulatory Oversight Act) was passed in 2023 and provides a range of powers to drive up standards. The next government should conclude recruitment for the national expert advisory panel, launch consultations on national standards for accommodation and for local authority licensing schemes, and work with the expert panel and wider sector to explore possibilities for a long-term revenue funding stream for supported housing. Quick action on the Act will enable developers to move forward with much-needed supported housing schemes with confidence, establishing an immediate pathway to growing the quality and quantity of accommodation and support for some vulnerable groups.  

Finally, whilst it would require some upfront investment, given the growing pressures on council budgets from rising homelessness the next government should also make money available to local authorities to acquire homes for temporary accommodation. This would generate considerable savings in the long run and relieve pressure on stretched LA budgets.

Rachael Williamson, Head of policy and external affairs at Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH)

The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) is the professional body for people who work or have an interest in housing. We have approximately 17,000 members across the UK and are committed to working in partnership with the next government to build a future where everyone has a decent, safe, warm, accessible, and affordable place to call home.