Private Eye | Botch The Builders

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No.1429 | 14 -27 October 2016

Botch The Builders

The message on housing from the Conservative conference in Birmingham was loud and clear.

“We simply need to build more homes”, said Theresa May.

“Quite simply, we’re not building enough new homes,” said Chancellor, Philip Hammond.

“I’m not afraid to stand up and say that this country has not built enough new homes,” said Communities Secretary, Savid Javid.

Javid and Hammond followed up with a joint announcement of their plans to “Get Britain Building.”

Not to be confused with David Cameron’s plan to “Get Britain Building again” in 2011, or George Osborne’s 4-point plan to “Get Britain Building” in 2015, this announcement acknowledged there was “much more to do.”

And to drive home the point, it made this comparison of housebuilding rates: “In the 20 years from 1969 to 1989, over 4.5m homes were built in England. Between 1992 and 2012, fewer than 2.9m were completed.”

With that 1.6m shortfall in mind, Hammod and Javid will set out their plans in a White Paper this autumn and have already announced funds worth £5bn to boost small builders, and unlock brownfield and public land.

But could a far simpler solution be under their noses?

Why not allow local authorities to build homes again rather than force them to sell those they already own? After all, between 1969 and 1989, councils in England built close to 1.5m homes [33% of all homes built]. Between 1992 and 2012, they built less than 15,000 [0.5%% of all homes built].