Tories need to give us a fair deal on housing

Tony Ward

May 18, 2015

Sarah Davidson is deputy editor of Mortgage Introducer

The newly appointed Conservative government is due to unveil its “budget for working people” on 8 July.

Indeed the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne chose The Sun newspaper to reveal the Tories’ plans to “crack down hard on tax avoidance and aggressive tax planning by the rich – because everyone should pay their fair share”.


He wrote: “We will always protect the most vulnerable, but we also need a welfare system that’s fair to the people who pay for it. If you can work you should be working, so we’ll take the next steps in our benefit reforms to make sure that happens.”


This has all sorts of consequences – not least where £12bn worth of promised cost savings will see welfare cut. But I wonder what the consequences will be for housing – something that is very much at the top of the list of concerns for working people.


The Conservatives, along with every other political party jockeying for favour in the run up to the general election earlier this month, put housing at the very centre of their manifesto.


But as usual, the vast majority of those policy promises were more about grabbing headlines than delivering a real solution to the housing crisis in the UK. 


The highlights included forcing housing associations (private companies) to sell their stock to tenants through an extension of the Right to Buy scheme, freeing up cash to reinvest in building new properties; to make 200,000 starter homes available to first-time buyers from new or existing housing stock by 2020; and to deliver 275,000 additional affordable homes over the next five years.


Fine. The problem is that building new homes requires builders to build them. And builders need land to build on.


And at the same time as promising all of these wonderful new homes, the government has also promised to protect the green belt and would “ensure local people have more control over planning”.


The problem is that building more houses and giving local people the right to veto building more houses is going to result in a stalemate.


Not in my backyard thank you very much.


This is one of the fundamental reasons we are in such a sorry state in Britain already.


There are always going to be conflicting priorities in politics and society: that is why we have a representative democracy.


Given that the voters of this country have given the Tories a mandate, it is the government’s duty and obligation to step up to the mark on housing.


House prices will continue to spiral upwards in overpopulated areas of the UK until we increase supply.


Right to Buy and Help to Buy are not the answer to this problem. They are a posterchild for a government trying to hoodwink its electorate into thinking they’re really dealing with the issues.


Until the Conservatives are clear about how to reduce the price of land for builders to motivate them to build new homes where there is demand for them, this crisis will drag on and get worse.


My question is – how is that a fair deal for Britain’s people?




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