On 05 March 2018 Theresa May addressed the housing crisis in her speech to the National Housing Conference.
Research shows that over 4,700 people are street homeless which is a 15% rise from last year’s figures, so how will Theresa May be tackling these problems?
One of the main points the Prime Minister voiced during her speech was to prevent developers from ‘land banking’ until it had substantially increased in price. Mrs May went on to state by doing so this would work against them in the future when bidding for new planning permission. Developers are to build homes which the average person can afford, should they not maintain this approach within two years of obtaining planning permission Councils ought to consider revoking it.
Mrs May also went on to mention that a review was to be concluded by the end of this year following planning reforms which authorise current homeowners to extend upwards creating new dwellings, to ease the shortage of housing. However, following a study conducted by the Independent it was apparent that 81% of the adults surveyed preferred not to live in upwards extended properties, despite the fact the proposal was strongly encouraged by Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid.
In addition to this, with over 217,000 homes built last year the government are to introduce new laws, to assist developers and local authorities to continue building more properties. A way in which the Prime Minister believes this can be achieved is by demolishing old shops which have closed down due to the rapid growth of the online shopping industry.
According to The Guardian only a few days after Mrs May’s speech, it was revealed that £817m had gone unspent and returned to the treasury, £220m from this was allocated towards affordable housing. Sajid Javid was thrown into the firing line by Labour’s Shadow housing Minister John Healey, stating that Mr Javid failed to fund affordable housing last year and if he cannot defend the department’s budget he should “give the job to someone who can”. We have witnessed extensive cuts to the building of council housing and a reduction in council homes through the right to buy scheme, so with more than one million people on the waiting list for social housing why have these funds gone unspent?
While Theresa May insists that the housing crisis is at the top of her priority list directly after Brexit, the return of cash to the treasury at a time where the sector is facing systemic issues, proves the Tories are far too distracted by Brexit to be solving the housing crisis.