There is a lot of noise being made about how housing will be a dominant part of the up-coming general election campaign:
The Home Front: why housing will be a key general election battleground
General election | Get involved | National Housing Federation
Let's look at the Conservatives:
Empty properties: tackling
Britain’s social housing crisis (2009)
The current situation
The current economic crisis is pushing house
repossessions to record levels and the number of
families languishing on social housing waiting lists has
reached a record 1.8m, nearly double that of 1997.
These trends will only get worse as the recession
deepens and repossessions rise.
At the same time, as a result of an astonishing lack
of ambition from the Government and years of John
Prescott’s planning rules, nearly 1 million properties lie
empty across the UK (800,000 in England) – a shocking
waste of much-needed potential housing.
We will relax the regulations which mean that it is
difficult for the Affordable Housing sector to bring
some of this existing housing into use. We consider the
plight of the 4.5m people on the housing waiting list to
be of such great concern that a temporary suspension
of the sometimes restrictive rules is urgently required.
We therefore propose the implementation of special
temporary arrangements to ensure that some of the
many thousands of habitable empty properties are put
to good use to house those on the waiting lists.
Major benefits for people and the economy:
Our plans will:
• Provide thousands of families with much
• Deliver local authority and Registered Social
Landlord housing much more swiftly than
• Reduce the crime and antisocial behaviour
associated with empty housing and help
• Help establish more mixed communities and
tackle the ‘ghetto-isation’ of social housing
• Help prevent an over-correction in house prices
by putting a floor under the housing market
• Help counteract the deflationary pressures in
Empty properties: tackling Britain’s social housing crisis (2009)
BUILDING HOMES AND
Policy Green Paper No.10 (2009)
Our plans for a more sustainable housing market
The seeds of the next housing bubble have already been planted by Labour’s persistently low rates of housebuilding,
so unless we make serious changes now, a wasteful and painful boom and bust cycle could happen
again. Our first challenge, therefore, is to deliver enough of the homes people want, in the places people want
them, in order to meet Britain’s unmet housing need. The first thrust of our reform will be to abandon the
Government’s failed top-down, target-led model of imposing development on communities, which has
comprehensively failed to meet this goal. Instead, we will move to a more sustainable system that uses radical
new freedoms and powerful incentives to enable communities to deliver the new housing they want and need.
•Abolish the unsuccessful regional planning system and the counterproductive regional housing targets;
•Incentivise new house-building by matching local authorities’ council tax take for each new house built for
six years – with special incentives for affordable housing;
• Allow the creation of entirely new bodies – Local Housing Trusts – with new freedom to develop homes
for local people, as long as there is strong community backing;
• Relax the rules that prevent thousands of habitable empty properties being used to house those on local
authority waiting lists; and
• Broaden access to the government's databases of surplus public sector land and buildings, to enable members
of the public to identify vacant government land that should be available for house-building.
STRONG FOUNDATIONS BUILDING HOMES AND COMMUNITIES Nurturing Responsibility Policy Green Paper No.10
Time to ditch the meaningless term “affordable housing” (2014)
We had a Hammersmith and Fulham council meeting recently and as usual there was much spirited debate. However one point of agreement was that the term “affordable housing” is meaningless and should be ditched. All housing – whether for purchase or for rent – will be affordable to some people, unaffordable to others. I have written before about how it would be more accurate to call it subsidised housing. In my part of London “affordable housing” is less affordable than most of the housing that can be bought or rented in the rest of the country.
In many ways the fixation with “affordable housing” actually causes the supply of new housing to be constrained – and thus means that more people can’t afford to buy or rent. “Affordable housing” is defined as being “for eligible households whose needs are not met by the market”. Why not give the market a chance? We have all these severe constraints on housing supply and then the planners notice how expensive it is and bring in this requirement, which ultimately constrains supply further and makes the problem worse.
Often the excessive demands for new developments to include a high ratio of “affordable housing” – which is owned by the local council or a housing association – means that the developments do not go through. Or that if they do, the remaining homes cost more as the cost of development has been pushed up.
Take the example of Labour-run Oxford City Council. It has imposed a cap on new dedicated student housing via the planning system. This really is quite counter-productive, as new dedicated student accommodation takes pressure off the private rented sector, and avoids the problem of “studentification” of other housing. The council is also imposing Section 106 affordable housing levies on dedicated student accommodation – which again defies sense, given student housing is very low-cost (market) affordable housing, and frees up low-end private rented sector accommodation.
Time to ditch the meaningless term “affordable housing” | Conservative Home
ConservativeHome Manifesto: Part 1) Homes For All | Conservative Home
Further evidence that building more houses is not enough to make them more affordable
WATCH: Cameron says Help to Buy makes it easier to afford a deposit
WE'RE HELPING YOUNG PEOPLE GET ONTO THE HOUSING LADDER (2015)
Our new Starter Homes initiative will give 100,000 first-time buyers under the age of 40 the opportunity to buy a new home at a 20% discount.
It’s the latest part of our long-term economic plan and will help more young people achieve their dream of owning their own home and getting on in life.
As part of the initiative, we’re changing the planning system to free under-used land from planning costs in return for builders agreeing to sell the homes they build there at below the market price – so more young people can afford to buy their first home.
Under Labour, house building collapsed and young people were frozen out of the housing market.
But with the Conservatives, house building is now at its highest since 2007 and more people are getting onto the housing ladder.
With this Starter Homes initiative and our Help to Buy scheme, we’re unlocking home ownership for young people – and helping them look forward to a better, more secure future.
We're helping young people get onto the housing ladder: Share The Facts.