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IPPR; What more can be done to build the homes we need? Download the report, read Editorial Panel reviews and submit your own review. 

Editorial panel and user reviews

The 2014 Lyons review was – as well as being something of an epic – widely regarded as one of the most comprehensive overviews of the structural failures within the UK housing market and the multiple interventions needed to begin to tackle it. Published directly after the 2017 General Election, this new collection of 12 essays presents a clear, accessible and engaging refresh of the core thinking from those involved in the earlier work. Originally intended as a critique of the 2017 Housing White Paper, the essays remain very relevant given Theresa May’s personal party conference commitment to solving the housing crisis and recent policy announcements on rent certainty and funding for social rent.   

The collection is packed full of insight, set out in an accessible format and benefiting from a range of expertise, styles and perspectives which will suit those more interested in ideas and policy direction than research purists and fans of number-crunching. There are limitations of course, not least because it’s hard to find originality in such well-trodden paths and to be truthful some of the essays feel like they lack a little punch in places. But despite this, the collection does draw out some genuinely interesting themes. It kicks off with everyone’s favourite whinge, planning, but at least hones in on land and a stronger legal framework for local authority cross-border co-ordination as solutions. Kate Henderson makes a simple but compelling case for a new wave of settlements based around scale, quality and economic gain and a 20-30 year commitment. Mark Clare offers an interesting private sector perspective which – after some initial meanderings – expertly dissects the structural issues within housebuilding and calls for a co-ordinated industrial strategy to transform production. There’s not too much new in James Bailey’s review of the local authority context … but it’s useful to be reminded that in 1970 councils build c45% of homes against just c1.5% last year. The joint essay on older people’s housing by Caroline Green and Michael Lyons is an interesting read as it unpacks a very British aversion to anything seen as an ‘old people’s homes’ and calls for a bold and brave re-invention of how we conceive and deliver a range of housing for this growing segment of the market. There’s interesting nuggets too in the contributions on international perspectives (Vienna, anyone?) and the role of employers in providing housing to recruit and retain talent. Meanwhile the Brexit perspective demands a complete re-think of construction skills and training now the already parlous predicament is about to get a whole lot worse… 

In summary then, this collection covers most of the key policy areas in a reasonably robust way while also managing to set out some interesting ideas in an original and compelling way. And although it feels at times like the rapidly unfolding policy agenda has already moved on, both practitioners and policy-makers will find themselves perhaps thinking slightly differently or perhaps more broadly after a morning or afternoon’s reading.