We won't build 250,000 homes a year through the market aloneby John Healey / February 26, 2016 / Leave a comment
The most important pieces of legislation define the politics of the period in which they are passed. During my time as an MP, the Minimum Wage Act in Labour’s first term after 1997, and the Conservative-led Coalition’s Health and Social Care Act after 2010, both did that.
The first captured an optimism that the economy could be moulded to ensure that low-paid workers weren’t left behind by globalisation; the latter a determination to reshape the heart of the welfare state.
The Housing and Planning Bill, which is currently going through Parliament, is also such a defining piece of legislation. I believe it may come to characterise the attitude of the first Conservative majority government for two decades.
At its core is an unbalanced housing policy that sounds the death knell for affordable rented homes, thereby choking off an essential source of new housing and locking out young people and families on low and middle incomes. The Housing Bill pushes this short-term and extreme programme on at least three fronts.
The first is an extraordinary forced sale of council homes, outlined in Part 4 of the Bill. Unlike the right-to-buy policy introduced by Margaret Thatcher to sell people the homes they live in, this Government is forcing the sale of council homes not to tenants, but to the highest bidder, including buy-to-let landlords and speculative overseas investors.