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Government’s housing policy focus to shift away from home ownership

Week in Westminster

Published: 16 September 2016 | Author: Michelle Vosper

Hot on the heels of the chancellor’s comments last week to the Lords Economic Affairs Committee that the government “wants to see a diversity of tenure types”, the housing minister has confirmed that “we need to build more homes of every single type and not focus on one single tenure”. According to a report in The Telegraph, in his first major speech as housing minster, Gavin Barwell indicated that the government is considering abandoning its pledge to build 200,000 starter homes by 2020, saying that affordable rental homes may now be included in this target figure. He went on to say, “The way you make housing in this country more affordable to rent and buy is you build more homes. There is still a role for the government doing specific things to help people on to the first rung but this can’t be at the exclusion of all else.”

The subject of home ownership, and the comments referred to above, was raised in an oral question by Lord Kennedy of Southwark.

Labour MP Chris Leslie introduced an adjournment debate on passporting financial services into the EU markets. Responding, economic secretary Simon Kirby said, “I want to reassure the House that we are working as hard as we can to consider the opportunities ahead, to safeguard UK financial services for the long term not just the short term. We understand the importance of market access, transition and continuity…and we also understand that access to skilled workers internationally will be essential to this sector.”

The Bill to establish a new tax on land transactions and replace stamp duty in Wales from 2018 has been laid before the National Assembly for Wales. An announcement about the rates and banks for the proposed tax will be made closer to spring 2018, taking into account the economic conditions at the time.

A report published this week by think tank Localis makes the case for government to provide mortgage deposits for Generation Rent. The report, Turning Generation Rent into Homeowners, argues that for younger people the housing market is an example of intergenerational inequity.  Localis recommends the introduction of a government-backed deposit guarantee scheme for first-time buyers . The government would invest the 10% deposit for new build homes into a secure account to be held by the lender until the buyers’ mortgage payments have covered the deposit amount. The government would then recoup its investment in full.

Meanwhile, the Institute of Economic Affairs is warning against the introduction of rent controls (a policy favoured by the Labour Party). Imposing price controls on rental property, it says, would do nothing to solve the housing crisis, but instead increase demand while reducing supply, and push up living costs.

Parliament has now risen for conference recess and will return on 10 October.