Evaluating UK housing policies to tackle housing affordability

Joanna Poon, Dean Garratt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to present an analytical summary of UK housing policies. It aims to evaluate UK government's housing policies, before and after the publication of the Barker Review, to tackle affordability issues in the owner‐occupied sector. It examines the extent to which housing policy contributes to or alleviates the problem of the affordability of owner‐occupied housing.

Design/methodology/approach: This paper evaluates the impact of UK government housing policies since 2000 on housing affordability by analysing their impact on the dynamics of housing demand and supply.

Findings: The Barker Review, which applied simple economic ideas and techniques in analysing the owner‐occupied UK housing market, argued that increases in new housing supply would help to improve housing affordability. The second Barker Review suggested that changes to the planning system were needed in order not only to increase new housing supply, but to make housing supply more sensitive to changing demands. The Barker Reviews brought about a major re‐think in government policy towards housing, particularly relating to new build and the planning system. However, the heavy reliance on the private sector to provide additional housing has reduced the effectiveness of policy changes. In addition, the adoption by the government of “demand‐side” housing policies has done little to negate the volatility of UK house prices or to raise the overall affordability of owner‐occupied housing.

Originality/value: This paper reflects on government failures in UK housing policy in addressing the affordability of owner‐occupied housing. The findings will be of interest to policy makers and housing researchers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-271
JournalInternational Journal of Housing Markets and Analysis
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jul 2012


  • Affordability
  • Barker Review
  • Housing
  • United Kingdom


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