Originally posted on January 6 on Inside Edge 2, my blog for Inside Housing
MPs staggered bleary eyed from the House of Commons at 2am last night without even getting to the most contentious parts of the Housing and Planning Bill.
Despite a series of obituaries for council housing and a ‘Kill the Bill’ protest outside, issues such as forced high-value sales, Pay to Stay and the voluntary Right to Buy will only be considered on day two of the report stage debate (set for next Tuesday, January 12).
Last night’s five-hour debate included starter homes, the regulation of housing associations, rogue landlords and the planning system. Opposition MPs complained that 65 pages of new clauses and amendments had been added at the last minute to a Bill that was only 145 pages long.
I blogged back in October that this a Bill written on the back of a fag packet and last night only confirmed that impression. The Bill also leaves a series of crucial decisions to be made by ministers by regulation later.
Nothing sums this up more than new clause 31 on planning obligations and affordable housing. This adds starter homes selling for up to £450,000 to the existing definition of affordable housing: homes for people whose needs are not adequately served by the market. However, it also adds that:
‘The Secretary of State may by regulations amend this section so as to modify the definition of “affordable housing”.’
Originally published on January 4 on Inside Edge 2, my blog for Inside Housing
So a New Year brings a ‘radical new policy shift’ for housing. Seven years after the crash and four years after its failed ‘radical and unashamedly ambitious’ housing strategy, the government now thinks it has what’s needed to boost housebuilding.
Hailed by David Cameron as ‘a huge shift in government policy’, today’s announcement that the government will directly commission 13,000 homes certainly seems to be a welcome admission that the market cannot fix housing on its own, that state intervention is required on a significant scale and that the major housebuilders alone will not deliver.
But what took so long? This much has been clear since 2008, when the Global Financial Crisis and credit crunch triggered a housebuilding slump and the Conservatives were drawing up their housing and planning policies in opposition.