BBC Radio Devon | Transcript of interview with Bill Buckley

Earlier today I spoke to Bill Buckley about Cameron’s policy announcements regarding his proposed changes to planning which will affect Section 106 Affordable Housing delivery.

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Wednesday 07 October 2105

13.00:00
News headlines, read by Clare Woodley:
The Prime Minister has pledged to change planning laws to help build 200,000 so-called Starter Homes in Britain.

Currently, developers are required to make low-cost rented houses available but David Cameron says instead they could be allowed to put discounted properties up for sale to first-time buyers.

Housing charities say the homes will be too expensive for most people to afford but David Cameron told the Conservative Party Conference he wanted to get more people on the housing ladder.

CLIP of David Cameron addressing Tory Party Conferernce:
When a generation of hardworking men and women in their 20s and 30s are waking up each morning in their childhood bedrooms – that should be a wakeup call for us. We need a national crusade to get homes built. That means banks lending, government releasing land, and yes – planning being reformed.

13:07:08
Bill Buckley:
What is so bad with renting? When it comes to your home, why are we obsessed in this country with what we think of as the need – and need is in quite big inverted commas – for everyone to on their own home.

David Cameron has been addressing the Conservative Party Conference, making his keynote speech.

In it he says he wants to transform Generation Rent into Generation Buy.

CLIP of David Cameron addressing Tory Party Conferernce:
So today, I can announce a dramatic shift in housing policy in our country. Those old rules which said to developers: you can build on this site, but only if you build affordable homes for rent, we’re replacing them with new rules. You can build here, and those affordable homes can be available to buy. Yes, from Generation Rent to Generation Buy, our party, the Conservative party, the party of home ownership in Britain today.

Well, why do you think about that?

Why does everybody need to own their own home? If you’re hard-up, why is it better to be struggling to pay a mortagage, even if you are buying below the market value, than paying rent?

Not everyone agrees with Mr Cameron…

13:25:30
Bill Buckley:
Let’s get a another view of the Prime Minister’s words now,  this time from Paul Bull, Labour and Co-operative Exeter City Council councillor.

Hello Paul

Paul Bull:
Hello

Bill Buckley:
S what do you make of the Prime Minister’s big scheme for housing today?

Paul Bull:
I’m rather disappointed

He was talking about how glad he was to see that somewhere like Cornwall was all blue, but I’m actually looking at a map that shows  Cornwall and most of Devon all red – which means if you earn less than £20,000 a year every single housing option open to you is unaffordable.

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Bill Buckley:
Every single option? Including renting?

Paul Bull:
You can still rent. But for buying. Sorry [I mean’t to say] Every single for option for buying is red.

Bill Buckley:
That’s why he wants to build Affordable Homes and to reduce the prices by 20%. Force builders to do that

Bill Buckley:
But by forcing builders to do that, we would be pushing people into probably one of the most unsecure [sic] forms of tenancy.

Social housing – social rented accommodation – delivered by housing associations and local authorities is one of the most secure forms of tenure for housing.

And the thing is at the moment, we are seeing across the country someone on his £9 minimum wage/living wage by 2020, only 2% of people would be able to buy a house, even at this Starter Home rate of 20% off.

Bill Buckley:
So you don’t believe that this scheme will make much difference to many people, it just seems good.

Paul Bull:
It just sounds [too] good [to be true].

So here in Exeter at the moment we are getting developers to deliver 35% Affordable Housing. And we’re getting that delivered to us and housing associations at social rent levels – that’s 50% of market rent.

It’s such a wonderful term – affordable should mean what you can affordable to buy if you’r on an average wage.

Bill Buckley:
[Laughter] You’d think it would, wouldn’t you?

What will happen then, if he’s got this big thrust towards Affordable To Buy rather than Affordable To Rent? Will that stops schemes like the ones you’ve just mentioned happening?

Paul Bull:
Yes it will, and so that will mean that the only place to rent will be in the Private Rental Sector.

And here in Exeter and across the South West we know that the pressures on rent are already high.

So with fewer and fewer local authorities and housing associations providing houses for rent, it will mean that rents in the Private Rental Sector will go up and up.

We are already building houses – we’ve built 40 really good eco-friendly houses. That doesn’t sound a lot – but  apparently it’s the best in the South West.

But our team, our social housing team, have negotiated over the past couple of years something like 600 homes and at the moment we’ve have negotiations that will deliver over the next couple of years – when the planning permissions come though – nearly 2,000 homes for social rent.

That’s 50% of market rent, so that people can actually have a roof over their head. Cameron talked about people having a roof of their own, I want people to have a roof over their head – and the most secure way of to do that is in the Social Rental Sector.

Bill Buckley:
Is it, nonetheless, an astute political move, given that everybody seems in this country that their Holy Grail is home ownership.

Paul Bull:
Maybe the Holy Grail is home ownership if you can afford it.

At the moment we are seeing mortgage rates at an historical low.

But if we remember, the global financial crash back in 2008 that was caused by the Sub Prime Mortgages. That was actually cheap mortgages and the reason the crash happened was that the mortgages rates went up.

So my fear is that people could actually get mortgages on these supposedly Affordable Homes at the moment…

Bill Buckley:
Just about manage it…

Paul Bull:
…and then in 4 or 5 years time, when the mortgage rates go up – because we’re hearing rumours from Mark Carney and people from the Monetary Policy Committee, they’re saying the mortgage rates will go up within a year or so.

If mortgage rates go up, we could see Cameron and Osborne causing a similar crash that was caused by America.

Bill Buckley:
Paul, thank you.

Paul Bull, Labour and Co-operative Exeter City Council councillor.

Link to iPlayer Radio

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