Increasing the budget for affordable housing

The Conservative View with Cllr Duncan Crow SUS-170126-103712001
The Conservative View with Cllr Duncan Crow SUS-170126-103712001

This Wednesday sees the Chancellor Philip Hammond present the Budget. One area I’m partially interested in is housing, given how the availability and cost are becoming a concern to ever greater numbers of people in Crawley and beyond.

For decades we simply have not been building enough homes, nor have we been building them quickly enough, and we have seen prices rise to increasingly unaffordable levels. Supply has failed to match the much increased demand in the last 20 years.

The Chancellor is expected to set out how the government will build 300,000 new homes a year. Last year saw around 220,000 extra homes which was a 15% increase on the previous year. This means there has been a total of 1.1 million additional homes since 2010 but I don’t think anyone is under the illusion that there isn’t a lot more to do. I welcome that the Prime Minister Theresa May has made it her personal mission for the Government to build more homes more quickly.

There are no easy answers to solve the housing shortage which is especially acute in London and the South East where people want to live and work. In Crawley with Gatwick on our doorstep, we already struggle to meet the existing demand for housing but had Gatwick been getting a second runway, Crawley’s housing shortage would have become severe. Our leaving of the European Union in 2019 will put an end to unlimited net migration from EU countries, which will slow down the rate of the UK’s population increase. However, our population will still be increasing and there is a lot of existing pent-up demand for housing.

The Conservative Government are increasing the affordable housing budget by an additional £2 billion, taking it to over £9 billion. This new funding can deliver more homes at social rent and will potentially leverage in further investment from housing associations and councils up to £5 billion.

The government are also tackling unnecessary delays, ensuring that councils release land for housing, and giving them new powers to stop ‘land-banking’ where developers don’t enact on their planning permissions.