Many have called for a cross-party approach to Brexit, but why stop there? Britain’s housing shortage is acute, and history proves that when parties work together on housebuilding, progress can be madeby Edward Douglas / July 20, 2017 / Leave a comment
It is easy to dismiss Theresa May’s recent calls for cross-party collaboration on policy as a cynical political ploy, and many commentators have. But what is undeniable is that the UK is facing critical challenges on Brexit, social care and housing. All of these require big solutions, and a minority government lacks the political capacity needed to reach them alone.
That’s why we have seen calls from Nicola Sturgeon, John Major and others for a cross-party commission on Brexit. Similarly, on social care, rumours circulated that Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb was being lined up to lead something similar—before he was elected chair of the Science and Technology Select Committee.
So far, there has been less focus on how a such an approach could deliver the homes we need. The impact of the housing crisis is well-known by now, but it bears repeating. After housing costs, low and middle income households have lower incomes today than they did in 2003; the social contract that says if you work hard you will prosper is breaking down as home ownership has fallen to a 30 year low; and despite increasingly strict criteria around social housing eligibility, 1.3m people sit on waiting lists.
This is not politically, socially or economically sustainable. But we need only look at the postwar period, when the major political parties committed to delivering new homes—and housebuilding reached levels not seen before or since—to know that such an approach offers a way forward.
The focus of any cross-party housing commission would need to be on solutions—what we don’t need is another inquiry into the problem. The list of recent cross-party reports on housing is substantial; ma…