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'Long-term policies needed to tackle housing shortage'

A new analysis has been published by housing charity Shelter and KPMG with the aim of addressing the UK's housing shortage.The report is addressed to the government which takes office following the 2015 general election. Its long-term plan details "tough reforms, smarter investment and local leadership" that would ensure England is building the 250,000 homes it requires by the end of the next parliamentary term.In particular, the report focuses on providing a high proportion of affordable homes, including many for low cost social rent. Housing policy has previously benefited a lucky few due to price inflation, but the charity claims this state of affairs can no longer be sustained.Four major challenges are identified by Shelter and KPMG for the next government to address.Firstly, they should tackle the high cost of land, which diminishes the quality, size and affordability of new homes.Dutch and German-style development corporations are proposed as a solution to high prices, as these could ensure a high standard of provision without the extra investment fuelling ever-higher land prices.The government needs to create a diverse, resilient house building industry, providing better access to plots of land and investment for local builders.Another challenge it faces involves devolving powers to towns and cities with growth intentions while making sure politicians cooperate with one another across their boundaries.Finally, greater attention needs to be given to long-term investment, from both institutional investors and central and local government. Reforms are needed to keep the cost of extra investment down, while new ideas are necessary to ensure the sector attracts the requisite private investment.A comprehensive programme of reform is also needed to ensure the housing shortage problem is solved - a major spending programme alone would be insufficient to do so, Shelter claims.In a foreword addressed to David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband, Marianne Fallon of KPMG and Campbell Robb of Shelter state: "Solving this problem will take leadership and vision from across the political spectrum at local and national level. All parties share responsibility for the housing shortage, and all must commit to ending it." 

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