In a column exclusive to Zoopla, Robert Jenrick shares his vision for restarting the housing market and recovering from the coronavirus crisis.
As the Prime Minister announced this week, we have now moved into the next phase of our fight against coronavirus. As with so many aspects of our lives, many people across the country have had their plans and dreams of moving home put on hold throughout this crisis. We’ve also seen important work to build the homes we need paused.
We made this difficult decision in order to keep the country safe, but thanks to the hard work and sacrifices of British people during the lockdown, we are now able to begin easing some measures in a way that is safe.
Since March, more than 450,000 buyers and renters have been unable to progress their plans to move. As of yesterday (13 May), those waiting patiently to move can now do so, though those self-isolating or with coronavirus should continue to keep their move on hold.
Back in business
Each of the building blocks of the buying and selling process are now back in business. The foundation for this is our new guidance on moving home while staying safe, including keeping a two-metre distance.
Estate agents, conveyancers and removal firms can also reopen if they follow social distancing guidelines. This is aided by our guidance for people working in homes, including fitters, so they can support home moving while reducing the risk of infection.
Underpinning all this is our work to restart and renew home building, with safety at its core.
I am grateful to everyone who has been carefully preparing to return to work over recent weeks. Thanks to these efforts, this week we were able to launch a Safe Working Charter with the Home Builders Federation, committing developers to returning to work while following stringent health advice.
We’re also allowing builders to agree more flexible working hours on site with their local council. This will make it easier to follow public health guidance on sites and stagger builders’ arrival times, making public transport less busy and so reducing the risk of infection.
A clear plan forward
Taken together, this forms a clear plan to ensure that everyone involved in moving home and building homes can begin their return to normal life, safely.
As week-by-week we continue to defeat this disease, we will stick to our long-term vision for the housing market we all want to see: safe, beautiful, high-quality, affordable homes, and more of them.
Because a home is more than just four walls. As we have found more than ever during this crisis, it is a sanctuary, a form of protection, and a link to your community.
Everyone has a role to play in helping to control the virus by staying alert and following the rules.
We all need to work together safely as we rebuild our economy and restore livelihoods, starting with the housing market. If we do this together, we will recover from this crisis.