Azara Blog: Cameron talks about housing without offering any solutions

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Date published: 2006/08/17

The BBC says:

Council and housing association tenants would be able to convert rent payments into mortgage instalments under a Tory idea to expand home ownership.

The plan would be a successor to Mrs Thatcher's "right-to-buy" scheme which led to a "huge change" for 2.5 million people in the '80s, David Cameron said.

It was a "natural aspiration" to own property and it was wrong for it to be out of reach for many people, he added.
Mr Cameron conceded that his intention to "create a whole new generation of homeowners" would reduce the stock of social housing, and this would need to be addressed.

But the advantage was that millions of people would acquire "an asset for their lives".

He also called for the planning system to be altered.

"People know there is a need for new homes - they don't want their kids to be priced out of the market, they don't want their local school to close, they don't want to live in dying communities," he said.

"But nor do they want to be overwhelmed by a rash of ugly, insensitive developments built on the back of some bogus consultation."
For the Lib Dems, housing spokesman Dan Rogerson suggested it would be better to give communities the power "to come up with innovative solutions to their housing problems" and not just "recycle old Thatcherite policies".

"Simply extending 'right-to-buy' would only diminish the supply of social housing and do nothing to tackle the real issue, which is the shortage of decent, affordable homes," he said.

The "right-to-buy" scheme was a disaster for Britain. It meant a few lucky "poor" people became rich almost overnight as a result of buying their home for much less than it was worth. And it indeed vastly reduced the social housing supply in the UK (but what the "correct" amount of that should be is another question). So the first suggestion of Cameron is indeed rather silly, and also irrelevant. On the other hand, at least he recognises that part of the problem is the planning system. In particular it is the strait-jacket of the arbitrary greenbelt system, which no political party has yet faced up to. The greenbelt system in turns means that the price of building land (in much of the country) is extortionate, and that is the fundamental reason no "decent" housing is affordable. (Well, what the Lib Dems mean by "decent" is not what most people in Britain would call "decent". The Lib Dems, like most of the ruling elite, think that the people of Britain should live in high density urban slums, whereas most people want to live in suburbs or rural areas.)

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