RICS Housing Forecast 2020: What should Government do next?

There’s little change predicted for the future of the UK Housing Market, according to the latest RICS Housing Forecast. House prices are predicted to rise by 2% by year end but surveyors don’t anticipate much change in sales activity, especially in the first half of the year. Hew Edgar, RICS UK Head of Government Engagement and Cities Strategy, explores what Government needs to do to try and ignite activity into the UK sales market.

The Prime Minister’s predecessor declared that fixing the UK’s housing crisis was her “personal mission” – but as the statistics show, the housing market was plagued by under supply during her tenure, which negatively affected affordability across the tenures.

Too many Government administrations have implemented a piecemeal approach to housing and tinkered around the edges of the main issues. This needs to stop if the Government is to make real and substantive enhancements to the UK’s housing sector – whether that is the pace and quantity of housing delivery, quality standards or energy efficiency. Mr Johnson’s parliamentary majority provides an ideal opportunity for his administration to do this; but he, and his housing team, must grasp the nettle.

The new administration must hit the ground running to deliver housing pledges within the manifesto

Indeed, it is imperative that the new administration hits the ground running and makes headway into taking forward the plethora of housing pledges within the Conservative manifesto – ensuring they actually deliver policy for a holistic housing sector – as well as moving the housing sector forward with a consistent and long-term approach.

Government commitments to their manifesto pledges would also make great inroads to issues of supply and fire safety. Further support for Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) as an alternative delivery vehicle, for example, could complement traditional build in trying to deliver the targeted numbers; the fulfilment their election pledge to implement and legislate for all the recommendations within the Hackitt Review into Grenfell would illustrate a strong and educated stance on fire and building safety; and a continuation of the work started in the previous Parliament to introduce regulation and standards into Private Rented Sector would improve professional practice, the landlord-tenant relationship, and standards.

In addition, the new Government should look to fix the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) regime but introducing a thorough review of the system to ensure it is fit for purpose and not an inhibitor for those wishing to make moves in their housing journey.

A welcome start under Mr Johnson would be confirmation of a rumoured elevation of Housing Minister to Cabinet level. This would illustrate real intent to fix the housing crisis. Particularly if the Secretary of State for Housing was held accountable for all matters relating to housing, and liable to parliamentary scrutiny on performance – whether that is limited increases, or decrease, in housing output, or declines in quality or energy efficiency standards.

RICS is optimistic that the new Government will provide the necessary attention the UK’s built environment that it deserves. For too long, domestic issues – particularly housing – have been side-lined by the Brexit debate, and this has negatively impacted investment and growth in land, property and construction.


Hew Edgar MCIPR – Head of UK Government Relations & City Strategy