Thakeham hosted a packed out fringe event at the Midland Hotel, Manchester, where 50 delegates listened to insights from 4 expert speakers: Rob Boughton, Group Managing Director of Thakeham; Lucian Cook, Director of Residential Research at Savills; Cllr Robert Alden, Deputy Chair of LGA South Gloucester; and Toby Savage, Mayor of the West of England Combined Authority.
The generational housing gap
The fringe event focused on the increased age of the average first time buyer and the lack of movement at the top of the market. Touching on the rising number of over 65s owning their own properties and their reluctance to move from those larger properties to free up equity for their grandchildren. It was also suggested and discussed among the speakers that the introduction of a scheme that would enable house purchase at a discounted rate for first time buyers to get them onto the housing ladder would offer a solution.
Leading the debate
Rob added to the discussion, acknowledging the change in social mobility in recent years and its effect on the process of home ownership in the UK. He noted Stamp Duty as a key issue in the generational housing crisis, with this having become a tax on a tax. Help to Buy was also discussed among the speakers as a focus of the generational housing gap, but it was noted that this scheme has not been without criticism and controversy. Lucian Cook argued that this scheme is not the answer for everyone. He highlighted that more affordable housing is necessary and movement at the top end of the market is needed within the downsizing market. He supported this with the statistic that 7.9 million homes in the UK have 1 or 2 spare bedrooms. Toby Savage argued further help from the government in regards to planning and stamp duty reform to improve housing delivery.
Local government planning
Increased housing production providing diverse, better alternative product for those looking to downsize would free up the market at the top end to encourage those onto the bottom of the housing ladder. Cllr Robert Alden from the Local Government Association was keen to support planning at local government level and claimed that this is not the blocking entity the public believe it to be, with 9/10 schemes being approved by local government.
Overall, it was a healthy discussion, with passionate questions from the floor, from all generations. Fears for future generations, short-term solutions and garden villages were all topics covered by the delegates’ questions.