A round-up of parliamentary business the week beginning 27 October:
The Treasury has launched a consultation on which powers the Bank of England should have over the UK’s housing market. Earlier this month, the Bank requested a range of powers including the ability to set a debt to income ratio for mortgages and control loan to value ratios. Currently, the Bank can only recommend that such a limit is put in place. The power to enforce these limits lies with the Prudential Regulation Authority and Financial Conduct Authority. So this consultation will inform the government’s decision on whether the Financial Policy Committee should have the power to directly control these limits for macro-prudential purposes. The consultation will run from 30 October to 28 November 2014.
Conservative MP Richard Bacon’s Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Bill had its second reading debate last Friday. The Bill would require each local authority to keep a register those (individuals and associations of individuals) who are looking to acquire land in order to build homes. It will also allow volume builders (when in partnership with registered social landlords) to include self-build and custom-build projects as contributing towards their affordable housing obligations. Housing minister Brandon Lewis confirmed the government “strong” support for the Bill. Mr Lewis said that there is merit in legislating now to establish local registers of custom builders who wish to acquire land, but made it clear that the full right to build would not be legislated for until the next Parliament.
LibDem MP Andrew George is not experiencing the same fortune with his Affordable Homes Bill. The Bill aims to introduce three new exemptions from the spare room subsidy, and to secure a review of the availability of affordable and intermediate housing. However, the Bill requires a Money Resolution which has not been granted by the government, and as a result the Bill committee was adjourned. For this reason, it is not clear at this stage when or indeed if the Bill will be able to proceed.
The transcript of the Treasury Committee’s meeting with the Prudential Regulation Authority last week has been published. The session included questions on ring fencing, the leverage ratio, and stress testing.
DCLG released its latest set of Help to Buy: equity loan statistics which show that at the end of September 33.911 properties have been purchased through the scheme. The mean purchase price was £210,429, and the majority of home purchases were by first-time buyers (84%).
Answering a question on the future of flood risk insurance, DEFRA minister Dan Rogerson confirmed that the Flood Re is on track to be implemented next year. Conservative MP Gary Streeter suggested he has constituents living in flood risk areas who are struggling to get reasonably priced insurance. Mr Rogerson confirmed that the statement of principles would remain in place until Flood Re was introduced and that the department was in regular discussions with the insurance industry to ensure people are being offered the flood insurance they need.
And the Forces Help to Buy scheme has received almost 5,000 applications, and helped over 1,500 Service personnel either get on, or stay on, the housing ladder since its launch in April 2014, according to defence minister Anna Soubry.
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