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Week in Westminster - 22 September 2017

Week in Westminster

Published: 22 September 2017 | Author: Michelle Vosper

In today’s much anticipated Florence speech, the Prime Minister reconfirmed her commitment to an  implementation period after the UK leaves the EU, and suggested that this will run for around two years. The Prime Minister said: “there should be a clear double lock: a guarantee that there will be a period of implementation giving businesses and people alike the certainty that they will be able to prepare for the change; and a guarantee that this implementation period will be time-limited, giving everyone the certainty that this will not go on for ever”.     

The Government started the week with their latest Brexit position paper focusing on maintaining internal security cooperation, and the Procedure Committee has announced an inquiry into Exiting the EU: scrutiny of delegated legislation.

Away from Brexit, Rachel Reeves, Frank Field, and Nicky Morgan (Chairs of the Business, Work and Pensions, and Treasury Select Committees respectively) are publicly supporting calls for an inquiry into the £200 billion of private debt in the UK.

While the Work and Pensions Committee has launched a new inquiry into whether and how far the pension freedom and choice reforms are achieving their objectives and whether policy changes are required. Written evidence is invited by 23 October.

Housing

In the wake of the Grenfell tragedy, Communities Secretary has announced the Government will carry out a “top to bottom” review of social housing. Speaking at the National Housing Federation’s annual conference, Sajid Javid vowed that the green paper “will be the most substantial report of its kind for a generation” and carry out “a wide-ranging, top-to-bottom review of the issues facing the sector”.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable has called for a “fierce” tax on overseas residents buying British property. In his speech at the Party’s conference, he said that Britain “must end the stranglehold of oligarchs and speculators in our housing market. I want to see fierce tax penalties on the acquisition of property for investment purposes by overseas residents”. The LibDem leader also called for rural communities to be protected from the “blight of absentee second home ownership”, a new generation of garden cities and garden villages in places where demand presently outstrips supply, and restrictions on councils being able to borrow to build affordable council houses lifted.

The Communities and Local Government Committee is resuming its work started during the previous Parliament on its inquiry on housing for older people in England. The terms of reference for the inquiry include the availability of finance to help older people right size in retirement; the impact of the cap on Housing Benefit from April 2017 on the development of specialist housing; and whether a national strategy for the support of housing provision specifically for older people is needed. The committee will make use of written evidence already received for this inquiry. New or updated evidence should be submitted by 6 October.

The CLG committee will be taking oral evidence from DCLG minister on the department’s priorities on 11 October.

Housing has also been the subject of two think tank reports this week:

  • The average share of income that Britain’s families spend on housing has trebled over the last 50 years, with young people having to make do with longer commutes and smaller, insecure rented accommodation, according to a new report published by the Resolution Foundation.
  • A new report from IPPR argues that London is failing to deliver the homes it needs, with the majority of Londoners unable to buy a house and affordable home ownership schemes proving to be far from affordable for even those on middle incomes.