Government has run out of ideas on housing, says Healey

SHADOW housing secretary John Healey was less than impressed with the Government’s latest housing measures, accusing the Conservatives of running out of ideas.

The latest measures announced by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) were flagged up in the speech communities secretary James Brokenshire MP delivered to the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham.

The measures include:

  • A New Homes Ombudsman to support homebuyers facing problems with their newly built home
  • Plans to help provide the homes the country needs through planning reform
  • Plans to create a “lasting legacy” from the 2022 Commonwealth Games
  • Measures to improve the safety of high-rise buildings, confirming a ban on the use of combustible materials in external claddings systems for residential buildings over 18 metres.

The Government also reiterated a commitment to deliver 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s.

“The last time a Government committed to building 300,000 homes a year was in 1951 when Harold Macmillan was Conservative Housing Minister,” Brokenshire said in his speech to conference. “Super Mac did it then and we will do it again.”

Pushing the message of homeownership, he added: “Nearly half a million families are now home owners thanks to Help to Buy and Right to Buy. And a million first time buyers are expected to benefit from our cuts to stamp duty with 80% of first time buyers paying no stamp duty at all.

“If you aspire to own your own home then I want to say this to you. We will help you. We will build the homes our country needs. We will support you to save for your deposit. We will break down the barriers standing between you and the opportunities you deserve. We will fix our broken housing market and make it work for you.”

He also had words to say on social housing, adding: “Fairness also needs to be felt by people living in social housing. That’s why I want to see a new deal for social housing tenants. To deliver decent homes, strengthen redress and break unjustified stigma.

“Equally as Conservatives we are committed to supporting the most vulnerable in our society. It is simply unacceptable in modern Britain that there are still people living out on our streets with no roof over their head. Our rough sleeping strategy and rough sleeping initiative are focusing efforts to drive change to give support to those most in need. So that we end rough sleeping for good.”

But shadow housing secretary John Healey wasn’t impressed by Brokenshire’s message. Responding to advanced snippets of the minister’s speech, he said the Government had no plan to fix the housing crisis.

“Conservative Ministers have run out of ideas and have no plan to fix the housing crisis,” Healey said. “After eight years of failure, we need more than reheated policy proposals and announcements of small-scale developments which are still years away.

“If Ministers are serious about housing they should back Labour’s plans to build a million genuinely affordable homes, give renters new rights and end rough sleeping within a Parliament.”



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