This 29th edition of the UK Housing Review again draws together key financial and performance data about public and private housing in the United Kingdom and assembles them in a coherent and accessible format. The structure of the Review, and its limited text, aim above all to provide a guide to the copious data.
In this year's edition, our data team, Gillian Young assisted by Alan Lewis, have updated as many as possible of the tables although several cannot yet be updated because the production of official statistics has been delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Where possible, updates will be made to coincide with publication of the Review's Autumn Briefing Paper.
Opening the sections of the Review which analyse current topics and trends, Section 1: Contemporary Issues covers three issues. Mark Stephens considers whether it will be possible to 'build back better' after Covid, drawing lessons from what happened after the global financial crisis. Philip O'Brien reviews the proposed planning reforms in England, and whether they herald a 'zonal planning future'. John Perry considers the 'zero carbon challenge' in the run up to the Cop26 climate conference in 2021, and what it means for the housing sector.
The six Commentary Chapters in Section 2 discuss key developments in policy, financial provision and outputs drawn from the main Compendium of Tables. They also provide a reference to other publications and data offering useful insights into current policy issues. Of this year's six Commentary Chapters, Mark Stephens wrote Chapter 1, John Perry wrote Chapters 2 and 4, and Peter Williams wrote Chapter 3. Chapter 5 was a joint effort between Suzanne Fitzpatrick, Beth Watts and John Perry. Chapter 6 was written jointly by John Perry and Sam Lister.
As in all previous editions, the Review's Compendium of Tables draws on a wide range of expenditure plans and departmental reports, as well as statistical volumes, survey reports, web portals and publications based on specific research projects. Many of the statistical data presented here can be accessed in publicly available statistical series and sources are acknowledged against each table. A number of tables are constructed from databases not routinely published elsewhere.
The Review is able to report that there has been no change in ministerial responsibility for housing in England since its last edition. As the Institute of Government has commented, 'ministers are often moved on just as they get to grips with their role, and departments suffer constant changes in direction'. The Review's roll-call of post-war housing ministers, compiled by the authors, appears inside the front cover and shows the detail and frequency of the changes.
The Review's statistical data: time series
Many of the tables in the Review provide data over a long time-series. Where possible they start in 1970, providing data at five-year intervals for the years to 1995 or 2000, with annual data for more recent years. The precise range of years varies from table to table, depending on data availability and the practicality of setting out data in a readable form on a single page.
Sometimes with modifications, most of the tables have been carried in all previous editions, and readers can consult back copies for data for earlier years that are no longer published. Last year there was an extensive revision of the tables and the numbering of many of them changed. Please see the 2020 edition for full details of the changes.
The Review contains several tables covering the regions of England, many for the long-established standard statistical regions (SSRs). Wherever possible, current data for standard regions have been sought. This has not always been possible, together with earlier data for SSRs, indicated in the tables concerned. Government office regions are generally shown in the Review under their current names.
One further point on English regional housing statistics is that, with an earlier decision by the MHCLG to stop including such figures in its own official statistics, their continued compilation and inclusion (where possible) in the Review has become even more valuable. It is appropriate to acknowledge that MHCLG seems to have dropped this earlier practice and official regional tables are starting to reappear.
Government departments and other bodies
Government departments are often restructured or change their names. Over the years the department responsible for housing in England has had numerous titles and is now the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. A similar change has taken place in Northern Ireland (to the Department for Communities). The Homes and Communities Agency became simply Homes England, and of the main trade bodies the Council of Mortgage Lenders joined others to form UK Finance.
Where data series have been made available continuously over the period covered, the reference given is the current name of the responsible department or agency. Where reference is made to historical data the source is normally the name of the responsible department or agency at the time they were initially published in the Review.
Comments and suggestions
Finally, the editors would welcome any comments or suggestions on the current and future format and contents of the Review, and they can be contacted by email, phone or letter. (see Acknowledgements)