As reported by 24housing (12th September), 37 councils across the country are set to benefit from a £2m cash boost to crack down on illegal green-belt developments, Housing Minister Esther McVey announced.
Addressing delegates at the annual RESI Convention in Newport, the announcement comes as part of McVey’s first speech as Housing Minister.
“Whilst I might be the first woman in a decade to do this job, you all know there has been 9 housing ministers in 9 years, so I want to say, that although we have been many in number, our collective commitment to deliver the homes this country needs have been constant and unwavering”, she said.
Working with the industry, McVey continues to highlight several ‘significant’ achievements. These include:
- Publishing the new National Planning Policy Framework scheme
- Investing £9bn in the Affordable Homes Programme and committing a further £2bn in long-term partnerships that gives Housing Associations the certainty through funding up to 2029, nearly 10 years from now
- A focus on ensuring the flagship Help To Buy programme has driven the supply in new homes – helping a new generation of people onto the property ladder
“Government is backing the industry with real investment and with interventions. And that is to make the dream of home ownership a reality.
“A dream that the vast majority of the public still have and continue to have.
“And why is that? It’s about having a stake in society, it’s about having security, it is about aspiration, it is actually about freedom.
“It’s about financial security, and it’s about safety for you and your family and it provides people with a real stake in their community.
“And whether you own your home or not, we all need a roof over our head,” she continued.
“Since the mid-1990s, house prices have risen to 8 times, 10 times, 12 times, in some of the most expensive parts of this country 44 times the actual income of someone, that cannot be right.
“Successive Conservative governments have sought to put a lid on that escalation, helping working people get on the housing ladder so they don’t have to dip into the bank of mum and dad.
“It still isn’t enough, but we have cut stamp duty for 95% of first-time buyers and abolished it altogether for 80% of them.
“We’ve introduced Help to Buy, loan and ISA, helping more than half a million have the security of home ownership.
“And we’ve continued the hugely successful Right To Buy which has helped generations after generations onto the housing ladder.
“But there is a limit to what government can do, for example, Help to Buy is precisely that. It is helping people to buy, it is not helping somebody to make a profit, it is not helping to increase the prices of property. It is about helping people to buy.
“So, this government will be vigilant about what is working, keeping an eye on our goal. That is a shared goal, helping people into a home and into home ownership.
“Extending ownership schemes and building the homes the country needs.”
McVey continues to reference the recently announced government proposals to expand Shared Ownership – allowing buyers to increase their stakes under the model by just 1% at a time.
While the trend to build towards the government target of 300,000 more homes a year, the Housing Minister said that there is still “serious barriers” stopping that progress unnecessarily.
“We need to focus on Brownfield sites – what are we doing there? Are we doing enough there? Are we building enough homes there? Regeneration must be something we should be most proud of, turning around, I call it, unloved land.
“And I know regeneration is a tough thing to do, I know that, that’s what my family’s business is in – demolition, excavation, regeneration, so we know that, and that is why government has put in billions of pounds in support to help with regeneration on Brownfield sites and that is what we must do.
“Because greenfield land, greenfield sites, should not be what we turn to, not what we look at first.”
“Every blade of grass must be looked at before it is changed – and it is only in the most exceptional circumstances we turn there and I can announce today councils will receive a share of nearly £2m to crackdown on illegal development, including in the green belt.
“I’ll be putting money there, to help with enforcement officers, new technology and legal costs.
“And alongside that, there will be a cash boost, from our department too, we are teaming up with the Royal Town Planning Institute to overhaul the National Enforcement Handbook. These are the things that we are offering to do, and can do.
“Surely between us, looking across what’s happening in the world, we can get the homes that different generations want.
“And what about the jobs and the careers to build all these homes, we need to think about that.
“We need to be opening up this house building to SME’s, bringing them onboard, bringing it to communities, bringing it to the self-build and bringing in modern methods of construction.
“So we will be bold, we will be visionary, we will be setting the world alight as we go forward with what we can do.”