“I’m totally committed to building more of the right homes in the right places at the right prices. So is the Prime Minister. So is the Chancellor. So is this government” so said Communities Minister Sajid Javid in his ‘avocado’ speech this week, so called because he accused the baby boomer generation of misunderstanding the current housing crisis if they blamed younger generations of wasting money on ‘nights out and crushed avocados’ rather than saving up for a deposit on a house.
He also accused the older generations of being NIMBYs, and acting like ‘I’m alright Jacks’ having paid off their own mortgages years ago. He said if they acted like this “they are not facing up to the reality of modern daily life and have no understanding of the modern market”. He pointed out that twice as much land in Britain gets covered by the tide twice daily than is covered in buildings.
People in their early 30s are half as likely as their parents were to own their home. A third of all men in their 30s are still living with a parent.
Now the PM has said she is taking personal charge of the programme to deliver the thousands of new homes needed in the country.
“The number of new homes being delivered each year has been increasing since 2010, but there is more we can do” Mrs May said this week.
She was referring to official figures published this week that showed the number of new homes in England increased by more than 217,000 last year. That represents the highest level of net additions since the depths of the recession, and it’s the first time in almost a decade that the 200,000 milestone has been reached. These figures were described as “a small step in the right direction- what we need now is a giant leap”.
“We must get back into the business of building the good quality new homes for people who need them most. That is why I have made it my mission to build the homes the country needs and take personal charge of the Government’s response” said the PM
In Cornwall, figures show 2,331 new houses are being built this year. This falls short of the Local Plan target of 2,625 and so the Council will be looking at ways of catching up and accelerating the building, possibly by upping the target to 3,000 homes a year.
These statements from the PM and Mr Javid seem to be laying the ground for an anticipated announcement by the Chancellor in his budget next week of improved Government investment in the house building sector.
But to use an old Tory mantra back at them, you can’t solve a problem by simply throwing money at it.
“Why throw money at problems? That is what money is for.
Should the nation’s wealth be redistributed? It has been and continues to be redistributed to a few people in a manner strikingly unhelpful.”
This is a thought echoed today by ex MP and now Director of Cornwall Community Land Trust, Andrew George, who has cautioned that “an eye-catching promise of money will not be enough to solve the current housing crisis”.
The former MP and housing campaigner warned that”the Government had cast a cloud of uncertainty and retraction ‘through their policies of promising to extend the right to buy, the unhelpful ‘started home’ housing gimmick and the continuance of the divisive so-called ‘bedroom tax’.”
Mr George said, “Of course any new investment will be helpful, but we still have a planning system which rewards land value speculators and which can be easily manipulated but the unscrupulous who secure permissions by purporting to provide affordable homes which barely materialise.
“There’s still industrial level tax avoidance amongst second home purchasers which drives the market in a direction away from the reach of local first time buyers.
“The Government needs to look at its policies, not just the much needed investment.”
One policy that might be welcomed in Cornwall was Javid’s statement that
“Tighter rules will mean that new houses can only be used to meet local housing need. Developers will not be allowed to build houses which are then advertised elsewhere.”