Plenty of prom­ises but no ac­tion from U.K. gov­ern­ment on hous­ing pol­icy

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

At last we have a state­ment of in­tent from the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment on hous­ing pol­icy go­ing for­ward from the Hous­ing White Pa­per pub­lished ear­lier this year.

With the Con­ser­va­tive Party con­fer­ence un­der­way, it is clear that they want to steer away from Brexit. One in­sider said that the mantra at the con­fer­ence in Manch­ester is to avoid let­ting Brexit take over as the ma­jor is­sue.

Well, hous­ing isn’t the ma­jor is­sue ei­ther as the con­fer­ence looks set to be dom­i­nated by lead­er­ship is­sues, but at least is has got a men­tion. Speak­ing ahead of his con­fer­ence speech, Com­mu­ni­ties and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Sec­re­tary Sa­jid Javid con­firmed an ex­tra GBP 10 bln for an ex­tended Help-toBuy Scheme to get an­other 135,000 first­time buy­ers on the hous­ing lad­der.

He also con­firmed that reg­u­la­tion of land­lords and let­ting agents will go ahead. Land­lords will be re­quired to join a re­dress scheme, it will be made eas­ier for wronged ten­ants to get jus­tice, all let­ting agents will have to reg­is­ter and a new hous­ing court set up to speed up court cases.

And he is promis­ing to get tough on plan­ning, say­ing that the cur­rent sys­tem is anti-de­vel­op­ment, there is too much Nim­by­ism and he wants to make sure more houses get built. But this is noth­ing new. When it comes to plan­ning, he said ex­actly the same thing a year ago.

A quick web search shows that Javid told the Con­ser­va­tive Party Con­fer­ence in Birm­ing­ham in Oc­to­ber 2016 that there was too much nim­by­ism.

“Every­one agrees we need more homes, but too many ob­ject to them be­ing next to us. We have got to change that at­ti­tude,” he said.

Some 12 months on, we have to ask what has been done to change that at­ti­tude? Well, the gov­ern­ment has pub­lished a Hous­ing White Pa­per. But has it ac­tu­ally done any­thing? It would seem not, as while hous­ing is be­ing men­tioned at the con­fer­ence, it could be viewed as a cyn­i­cal ploy to win votes, all sub­stance and not much ac­tion.

It is one thing ac­knowl­edg­ing

that the cur­rent plan­ning sys­tem is help­ing those who op­pose de­vel­op­ment and an­other to ac­tu­ally take ac­tion. It is all very well say­ing that the in­abil­ity of young peo­ple to buy their own home is the big­gest bar­rier to so­cial progress in the na­tion today, but ac­tions speaks louder than words.

Javid needs to step up, to ac­tu­ally carry out what he has been promis­ing for at least a year. We all know that the hous­ing mar­ket is bro­ken, with plan­ning is­sues be­ing a big part of this, but talk­ing is not go­ing to solve any­thing.

New re­search shows that Eng­land’s new homes short­fall will reach more than a mil­lion by 2022. I would like to know for real what Mr Javid is go­ing to do about that.

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