60 Second: Times keep a changing

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Times keep a changin’

Afternoon,

Responsibility for housing in Westminster has now changed hands six times since 2010 – from John Healey, to Grant Shapps, to Mark Prisk, to Kris Hopkins, to Brandon Lewis, to Gavin Barwell and now to Alok Sharma. That’s about once a year.

This wouldn’t have been too much of an issue if the process of building houses did not take years from start to finish.

The Minister for Housing needs to be a long-term visionary, who needs the courage (which is not missing) and more importantly, the freedom to tackle vested interests.

A few years back, the government considered an independent body to grant planning for major projects without having to through the local plan process.

b68b50ac-fe01-435e-9a65-e52fce679af4If we are really serious about building in the leafy Conservative suburbs around London – many of whom have major supply issues, then maybe that’s what we need. (Jeremy would have no problem with it.)

Almost every government takes the same approach to housing. They all call for more housing whilst tinkering on the edges of housing regulation, making it more complex at every turn.

The youth vote in the election seemed to have focused minds and the government has made welcome noises in recent days.

As one MP said, “we can’t expect the young to be capitalists without capital”.

Sajid Javid told council leaders at the Local Government Association’s annual conference that wealthy communities living in areas “where housing is particularly unaffordable” have to accept that more homes needed to be built nearby. Good luck trying to convince the Tory grassroots of that.

It is all well and good increasing council housing targets but without stringent sanctions, they could ask councils to build a billion houses a year and it wouldn’t make the slightest difference.

I wish Alok Sharma a long tenure and good luck in his new role.

God knows he’ll need it.

Have a good weekend

Tom


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