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“From generation rent to generation buy…”

Week in Westminster

Published: 9 October 2015 | Author: Michelle Vosper

Addressing the Conservative Party conference, the prime minister announced a “dramatic shift in housing policy” away from “from generation rent to generation buy”.

Mr Cameron confirmed that an agreement with housing associations and the National Housing Federation had been reached that will deliver on the party’s manifesto commitment to extend right to buy to housing association tenants from next year. The prime minister also announced that planning policy would be amended to allow the new Starter Homes to be provided as ‘affordable housing’ - as currently drafted the definition of affordable homes would exclude Starter Homes.

Earlier in the week, the chancellor announced a four point plan in his speech to “get Britain building for the future”. Measures include -

  • removing planning rules that prevent brownfield sites from being developed to increase the supply of homes for sale; the housing budget directed towards new low cost homes for sale for first-time buyers, and housing association tenants being given the right to buy.
  • pooling existing local authority pension funds into British wealth funds each with assets of £25 billion. These new funds will develop the expertise to invest in infrastructure projects.
  • Bringing forward the sale of government assets which will raise up to £5 billion over the course of the parliament to help fund new infrastructure projects.
  • Creating a new National Infrastructure Commission led by Lord Adonis. The commission will deliver a long-term plan and assessment of national infrastructure needs at the start of each parliament, setting out what the government is expected to do over the next five years.

To address the problem of policy being too London-centric, the chancellor also announced a “devolution revolution”, saying that local government will be allowed to keep the rates they collect from business and pledging to give councils extra power and responsibilities. Those areas which choose to have city-wide elected mayors will get even greater flexibilities and be given the power to increase rates for spending on local infrastructure projects, including housing.

In Scotland, however, generation rent was firmly on the agenda with the publication of the Private Housing (Tenancies)(Scotland) Bill to increase security and stability for tenants in the private rented sector. The new Bill includes provisions to protection tenants from unfair evictions and unpredictability over rent increases, as well as ensuring the sector is attractive to investors, with better management and regulation.

And finally, the Treasury committee chair Andrew Tyrie has called on the regulator to ensure that small banks are not disproportionately impacted by a new “supertax”, announced by the chancellor in July. In a letter to the Prudential Regulation Authority, Mr Tyrie also asked the regulator to look at changing the rules on the amount of capital they are required to hold. He said it is essential the tax “does not obstruct Parliament’s efforts over the past four years to increase competition in the banking sector”.