New-build homes 'unaffordable' for eight in 10 families

3 March 2017

The current system of housebuilding in England is failing families by producing high-priced, poor-quality homes that are ‘rigged’ in favour of big developers, according to a new report by Shelter.

The homeless charity reveals that typical new-build properties are too expensive for 83% of working private renting families across the UK – even if they use the government’s Help to Buy scheme.

The worst-hit region is the West Midlands, where 93% of families are unable to afford to buy an average-priced new home.


According to the report by Shelter and YouGov – which comes in the wake of the government’s White Paper describing the housing market as ‘broken’ – many new-build homes are also of poor quality, with 51% of new home owners say they have experienced major problems with their properties including issues with construction, unfinished fittings and faults with utilities.

Shelter criticises the current system, saying that it will never work for ordinary families because it focuses on rewarding developers and landowners rather than on building homes.

To combat the problem, Shelter has launched a new model of house building designed to deliver affordable, high-quality homes.

New model unveiled

Called New Civic Housebuilding, the new model aims to create a large number of good-quality, affordable homes with infrastructure that meets the needs of communities.

Shelter points out that this type of housebuilding was used to deliver the Georgian new towns of Edinburgh and Bath, the Edwardian Garden Cities and the post-war new towns.


Under New Civic Housebuilding, land is brought into development at a lower price with strict conditions attached. Clearer and lower land costs mean that:

  • Homes can be built more quickly and sold at lower prices, while still returning reasonable profits to developers.
  • Local communities can have real influence on how new homes are built.
  • More can be spent on providing roads, schools and infrastructure that communities need.


Graeme Brown, Shelter’s interim chief executive, says: "Big developers and land traders are making millions from a rigged system while families struggle with huge renting costs and have to give up on owning a home of their own, which has become nothing more than a pipe dream.

“For decades, we’ve relied on this broken system and, despite the sweeteners offered to developers to build the homes we need, it simply hasn’t worked. The current way of building homes has had its day and it has failed the nation.

“The only way to fix our ever-growing housing crisis is for the government to champion a bold new approach, which responds to communities to build the genuinely affordable, beautiful homes they want – as we have done as a country in the past. Until this happens, millions of ordinary families across the country will continue to pay the price.”

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