New schemes are meant to distract attention from falling London property pricesby Danny Dorling / January 4, 2017 / Leave a comment
Government announcements made in early January are almost always designed to fill a news vacuum. They are planned in December and those writing the announcements know that they can be bland. There is little other news to report. Old news can be recycled. More importantly a story can be laid down in anticipation of bad news to come, to try to reduce its impact.
Housing is a tricky story for this government to handle because most Conservative ministers believe that the market should provide and that people who cannot afford to live in an area should not be living there. They are also in favour of rising housing prices, including rising rents, which they see as a sign of economic success. However, they know these views are unpopular and so in recent years they have announced and re-announced hundreds of small schemes to give the impression that they are doing something.
On 3rd January the Daily Telegraph published an article with the headline: “Theresa May promises thousands of new homes for young first-time buyers.” The story related to a pledge made two years earlier on which no action had been taken. The “young” buyers would be people aged 23 to 40. Some £1.2bn was assigned for the scheme, but with around a third of local authorities expressing interest this would amount to only around £1m per site within each authority.