Coffee House

Grill the minister: Mark Prisk

12 November 2012

10:00 AM

12 November 2012

10:00 AM

Mark Prisk took over as housing minister in September’s reshuffle, and has quite a task on his hands to get housebuilding figures looking healthy again. The Conservative MP was previously in the Business department as Construction Minister, so he knows all about the challenges of getting Britain building. He has bravely put himself up for a grilling by Coffee House readers, and will be answering a selection of your questions posted in the comments below. Please post your questions below by 5pm Friday 16 November, and we will post Prisk’s answers next week.

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  • Steven Burton

    Is there any point writing this article if it is not followed up with Mr Prisk answers? If Mr Prisk has not responded then he needs a kick up the backside.

  • Steven Burton

    What’s the hold up?

  • Atrapalhado

    any answers forthcoming?

  • Steven Burton

    Spectator. Where and when can I read Mr Prisk answers to the questions submitted?

  • Alex R

    (1) Does the government agree that house prices are too high?

    (1) Does the government want house prices to go up or down?

  • John Moss

    Mark, The key issue is lack of demand, yet institutional investors crippled by low yields.

    Could you increase demand by relaxing restriction on SIPP investment in to private residential to let? Perhaps restricted to new-build with a guarantee of letting for ten years?

    Also, to encourage Institutions to invest in PRS, could any rental profit be exempt from tax is retained within the pension fund?

  • German Munoz

    Minister, what are your plans to help control house price inflation in the UK (especially in the South East)? People should be able to afford a house that s 3-4 times their annual salary, which is the historical average (before the housing bubbles hit). What are your plans to bring housing prices back to affordable levels?

    I do not think helping people get loans they cannot otherwise afford is a good policy, it created the housing bubble we are still living in. Selling someone 25% of a house (i.e. shared ownership) doesn’t seem like the right answer either.

  • Carl Thomas

    Another question while I’m at it. There are local authorities which are strongly against development due in no small part to the demographics of the authorities. My own, Richmond upon Thames, is one, and I’m being chased out of there due to the ridiculous price of housing, as indeed were people as a whole between the ages of 20 and 34 according to the census.

    When are we going to see demand for local plans to be sustainable, considerate and not overly complicated?

    Right now in Richmond there’s the Town and Country Planning Act, on top of that there are borough-wide planning documents then on top of that there are supplementary planning documents. This is basically pandering to those who have already purchased their homes and in many cases paid off their mortgages decades ago.

    The minister may remember hearing from Katy John at a fringe meeting at the Conservative conference. What about those who cannot lay roots down as they are constantly being moved on by landlords, so can’t influence their community as they’re not permitted to have a stake in it?

    The average house price in Richmond is 10 times the average household income, and the average income for those working in Richmond borough is actually LOWER than the London-wide income. This absurdity is emphasised by that Richmond’s planning department largely either commute from outside the borough or are living in key worker schemes.

    Localism has a place however EVERY planning authority should be taking its fair share, not as in the case of Richmond supplying a tiny percentage of total demand and ensuring their supply ticks the boxes but is nothing more than an investor’s charter. So many family homes lost as they’re split into 4 flats. Great for Richmond’s numbers, a disaster for those who aren’t packing 750k of equity from a City flat and want to lay down roots.

  • Carl Thomas

    There are absolutely no controls on foreign purchase of housing in the UK causing prime London property prices to be absurd, with the ripple effect being felt throughout London as those affluent persons who would purchase within those prime areas are now purchasing outside them and so on.

    The end result being that prices are higher, rents are higher, and we’re exporting our wealth to foreign investors at precisely the time we need to be investing in the UK.

    When are we going to see controls? Housing is not a free market while there are planning regulations and land banking. Singaporean investors have more controls purchasing investment property in Singapore than they do here.

    The government has been all about availability of credit; did they learn nothing from the 2000s? Prices in many regions where there is the economy to support people are simply too high. The government continues through inaction in some ways and active action in others to prop house prices up, then defends the inaction by claiming it is preserving a free housing market, which with the Town and Country Planning Act, local council Supplementary Planning Documents, etc, is an absurd statement.

    When is the government going to stop ignoring those who earn too much to consider social housing but don’t have assets yet and have the triple whammy of high rents, huge deposits then enormous house prices? The beneficiaries of this are the banks and while high house prices make GDP look better in terms of inferred rents they actively harm the real economy, the one that contributes towards our qualities of life.

    Housing should not be a political issue and if the government cannot stop politicising it as your predecessor quite obsessively did before being moved to a position where he didn’t have to pretend to care about anything besides politics would the minister consider it appropriate to remove all political control from housing and have housing policy determined by a non-partisan group for the sake of the country rather than votes?

  • Charles

    The solution is simple for the Government get out of the way and let the market properly adjust. Stop printing money and using my taxes to keep house prices artifically inflated.

    • Daniel Maris

      You are honestly saying you want to remove all planning controls and let people build where they want to, including slap bang next to wherever you live? That’s what allowing the market to properly adjust means – you would have to allow freedom to supply as well as demand.

  • Paul

    Is the minister ashamed of the government’s willingness to overrule local opinion and permanently destroy our heritage with the short term aim of helping house builders rather than addressing the structural issues within the market. (See recent travesty regarding Shottery and Anne Hathaway’s cottage)!!

  • itdoesntaddup

    The stock of mortgage lending now stands at almost £1260bn, up from £1150bn when the run on Northern Rock occurred. The increase in lending is mirrored by the decrease in lending to businesses. The size of the average mortgage granted has been over £150,000 (BoE Bankstats Tab 5.4, by division), against an average house price reported by Hali/Wide lenders at around £160,000. The increase in mortgage lending since 2000 has been funded by the “customer funding gap” – borrowing abroad. Affordable houses are the same houses as bubble priced ones – just sold at sensible prices, not bubble prices. Why does the government not recognise that money lent to prop up house prices (as in Funding for Lending) simply backs out funding of business, and that therefore lower house prices are in the interests of the wider economy, future house buyers and the country?

    The supply of start of chain buyers willing and able to pay bubble prices is limited. It appears to consist of rich foreigners speculating in London property, and BTL Landlords speculating that Housing Benefit will continue to subsidise the rents they charge at a level that will leave a handsome profit over subsidised mortgage interest rate costs. Neither of these groups deserve to be protected against falling house prices – nor do those who wilfully overpaid or overborrowed. Neither do landbanking speculators – many with over five years’ supply of building land. Why is there not a levy on undeveloped building land held longer than 3 years (a generous time allowance for pursuing planning) to promote its sale to those who will develop it?

    We can’t sort out our banks until we sort out the property market.

    • Thomas Paine

      Well said sir.

  • Gavin Hodgson

    I am the average first time buyer aged 35 and with a deposit of over £27k (about 5% deposit where I live)… I am glad that mortgage rules are going back to their more conservative roots, but it is bonkers that I can live in rented accomodation which costs more than what a repayment mortage would cost me. I cannot secure a mortage based on current affordability criteria despite having several years evidence of myself having consistently and reliably payed rent which is more that the monthly cost of mortgage being requested. Something needs to be done about this.

    Also I would like to comment that NewBuild Home Buy is stacked way too much in the favour of developers, and whilst it in important to maintain the skills base of developers and bulders, it should also be made available for purchasing on the open market for first time buyers and those in social need of housing (as it was in the past).

  • Geoff Bamsey

    Given that much money is paid to those who do not own a house in Housing Benefit, please explain why that money cannot be diverted into buildling houses for those people at neutral cost. Even if they cannot pay rent at least they would be decently housed.
    Geoff Bamsey Ashburton Devon

  • Charles

    It always amazes me that if the mobile phone companies add the tinest charges the politicians and media are on it straight away. Yet when Real Estate Agents and Solicitors continue with made up rip off charges nothing is done. The Real Estate industry and legal profession need to be scrutinzed in some of these ridiculous charges. In addition how about a complete reform of the complex buying and selling process. Australia has an excellent system that the Government should investigate.

  • Antony Scott

    I have but one simple question.

    Are you going to implement any schemes that could address our over-inflated house prices?

    I mean, the cost of a home today is at least 5 times the national average salary, which is ridiculous for a few bricks, land, and mortar! Compare this to the price of property abroad; where one can buy a 4 bedroom dream house compared to a ‘cosy’ (cramped) – 3 bedroom semi-detached property with vastly inferior build quality which will of course be accompanied by littered bouts of anti-social behavior arising in the adjacent neighborhood.

    I know which property I am investing in! I also know of others who are wanting to do the same. We need people to stay, to contribute to our tax system, not drive the hard workers away by further engraving the idea of ‘rip off Britain’ into the minds of the hard working tax payer.

  • RobinS

    What is the goal of your housing policy:

    (1) on prices:
    a) house prices go up – thus increasing perceived “wealth”
    b) house prices go down – thus improving “affordability”
    c) house prices are stable at current levels
    d) this is not a goal of policy – it’s up to the market

    (2) on ownership:
    a) increase the number of owner-occupiers
    b) increase the number of privately let properties
    c) increase the number of council or HA owned properties
    d) this is not a goal of policy – it’s up to the market

  • barbie

    What will he do about rogue landlords who let their properties run down to such an extent it deprives those living next door of gaining profit on their own properties. May I suggest he ask local councils to levy a licence fee for all private landlords, structured by size etc, they could then withdraw the licence if thy don’t maintain their properties, thus allowing them no rent from them until they reform. The present law does nothing to assist home owners who have these problems with Councils lacking cash. The private sector housing in councils is taking large amounts to run, by these bad landlords, why should Council Taxpayers fund this?

  • Robert

    To re-itterate what has already been said below. When is the government going to start using a stick against the house builders? We’ve had carrot after carrot and yet the number of house starts reduces. Does the government have any plans to penalise the house builders if they don’t build on the vast land banks they own?

    Also, why does the government include the sale of council houses in it’s new housing total? A council house re-branded is not a new home!

  • Mr Creosote

    Can Mr Prisk confirm that we are heading for fewer than 100,000 housing starts this year against an annual requirement for 240,000.? Can he further confirm that this trend has been going on for at least the last 20 years?
    Can he also confirm that, as in the case of Stratford District Council (the worst performing LPA in terms of granting planning permission within the statutory 8 week period), Councils that deliberately set unrealistic housing targets in their local plans will be forced to increase those numbers in line with evidence based research?
    This appeared to be the view taken by the Secretary of State when granting the recent appeal for 800 houses at Shottery, adjacent to Anne Hathaways cottage. This decision conclusively showed that the LPA’s five year land supply was fanciful and its housing target going forward (8000) was too low by 3-4000 houses. What pressure can he apply to make sure that this figure is increased immediately?

    • Paul

      And in forcing the council to accept the revised targets is he going to do this by forcing the council to reconsider its plans or simply overrule the council and allow developments in unsuitable locations.

  • mgb86

    Has the minister read The Gated City by Ryan Avent from The Economist which argues that high house prices have a highly negative impact on economic growth and competitiveness versus other countries. The end result is economic stagnation and skilled young people (like myself) emigrating in droves…. I would recommend it for his bedside table.

  • Steven Burton

    Why does the government have no interest in protecting private tenants? I pay just under £900 per month on rent for a property that if it was a car would not pass an MOT.

    Why is the government doing everything it can to support house prices when in reality it would be better for the UK for house prices and rents to fall to a level that allows the working man to have money in his pocket for luxuries like food ?

    There was a report recently suggesting councils could use pensions to build up to 300K affordable homes for sale and rent. What are your thoughts on this policy.

    What in the government view is affordable homes? Please be specific with regards average property prices and average salary ratio?

    A very frustrated working professional who is a slave to the government.

  • mombers

    The planning permission system is a prime example of rationing. This creates artificial winners and losers. Someone can sell a house that would cost less than £100k to build from scratch for many times that. A renter or first time buyer has to pay many times replacement cost as a result. Food rations were equally distributed in the wartime Britain. If the government is going to distort the market so much, should it not take corrective action to tax windfall gains and compensate those who are forced to pay above market rents and prices?

  • Curious

    Was/is it the government’s and the BoE plan to purposely price out all future generations out of the housing market in order to:

    1. Comply with the rest of the EU balance of house ownership against rented accommodation. Brown did hint at big housing associations being formed in order for a certain %age of the population to rent. Is this why Buy to Let is being is being massively supported at the expense of the younger generations? Apart from the fact that Mp’s are Buy to Letters.

    2. Halt native population growth because young couple’s have no stable housing to start a family.

    3. Just make people’s lives a misery and to keep them enslaved and “on their toes”. Make people dependent and without land to grow their own food so that they are easier to control?

    It is obvious to me that this purposely long ago thought out plan to price people out has very devious intentions.

    Is this Agenda 21 in action?

  • Robert Norville

    There a shortage of housing, particularly in the south-east and particularly council housing at a time when there are thousands of people desperately wanting houses and many more people desperately wanting to work in the construction industry. Why is the government not building more council houses and why do planning laws restrict house building in times when we desperately need more homes and more construction jobs?

    • itdoesntaddup

      What you really mean is that housing in the South East is priced at levels that few can afford. There is not a real shortage, as there are plenty of properties for sale. We don’t have thousands of people sleeping on the streets. We do perhaps have plenty of illegal immigrants living in garden sheds – but the solution to that is to deport them.

  • Daniel Maris

    Why not use stamp duty to fund green energy schemes (e.g. solar power panels on roofs of the properties being bought)? That will benefit the people paying the stamp duty through lower energy bills and through earning money from electricity sales. Isn’t that a win-win situation: lower green energy subsidies, concrete benefits for stamp duty payers and an increase in our energy independence.

    Within 10-20 years virtually all properties in the UK would be enjoying low energy bills.

    • itdoesntaddup

      Feed in tariffs are green welfare, absurd subsidies criticised even by Georges Monbiot. One reason why so few houses are built currently is that the green building standards impose costs that are simply not recouped in lower energy bills. Any buyer therefore faces a depreciation and loss to reflect these bad economics. The current attempt to look at building standards with a view to make them less uneconomic (without compromising such key issues as safety) is the right way forward – but we know it will be blocked by the Lib Dems.

      • Daniel Maris

        I’m not talking about Feed In Tarrifs. I am talking about converting Stamp Duty into a tax that delivers lower energy bills and an income for the buyer.

        • itdoesntaddup

          earning money from electricity sales

          That is FiTs.

          Educate yourself:

          • Daniel Maris

            The marginal cost of electricity production from a solar panel once installed is close to zero and under my proposal even maintenance costs would be covered by the initial capital investment. That means the houseowner would earn money even if FiTs were withdrawn.

            FiTs could be eliminated or greatly reduced if we followed the Stamp Duty route. The Stamp Duty replaces the FiTs as a source of funding.

            Talk of green welfare is nonsense – you might as well talk about “tarmac welfare” for road building.

            • itdoesntaddup

              Swapping one source of subsidy funding for another doesn’t make the subsidy any more defensible. Read Monbiot. Evidently, you failed to do so.

  • Turnbull

    I’d personally like to congratulate Prisk, his predecessor Grant Shapps and the Tory party as a whole, for taking absolutely no measures that deal with the structural failures of our housing market, particularly in respect of land ownership and availability. Thank you for instead ensuring house prices remain well supported, the private rental sector remains lucrative and unregulated, and large property developers enjoying state support to prevent competition and more house building.

  • Acacia Avenue

    1. Vince Cable suggests empty nesters downsize then the government introduces a stamp duty hike and threatens a wealth tax on houses which freezes house sales. Where is the sense in this contradictory set of polices?

    2. Stamp Duty rates ought to be smoothed to avoid large steps at different price bands. Is it beyond the Treasury’s ability to create such graduated banding – which may even be manipulated to raise more tax at the band boundaries? The desired aim of grading/altering the bands would be to remove selling price distortions, ie. ceilings and price clustering, which are produced by such banding. What is stopping this happening?

    3. Stamp Duty has made it so expensive to move that many find it cheaper to stretch their properties upwards, outwards out and downwards. More transactions and a freer flowing housing market would enable those stuck with large mortgages to downsize and those who want larger properties to upsize. Current tax greed is distorting the natural ebb and flow of the market trapping those financially underwater, how can this be sensible?

    4. A two year Stamp Duty holiday would give a much needed boost to house sales and perk up the whole economy by breathing life into the market and resuscitating the local builder, DIY outlet, drapery and carpet seller etc. Once people feel their houses are saleable they may well get out there and spend more providing work. Does the minister support such a policy?

    5.Where is the logic in a property wealth tax solely on houses? Has the government considered the ramifications? If the world’s rich take a dislike to this they will simply invest in other less easily taxed status symbols such as art and antiques. Also, once such a tax is introduced, how long before it is extended to include us all, £2m, £1m, 500k, 250k… How does such a policy sit with Conservative values? Are you trying to lose the next election?

    • Tom Paine

      A property wealth tax will have positive benifits in achieving precisely what you argue for which is to provide a disincentive to use property as purely an investment category (which results in empty houses all over the posh bits of London) and restores houses to what they should be, ie places for people to live.

      With you on some of the other stuff, though initiatives like stamp duty holidays are just tinkering, the whole system needs overhaul from taxation to housing benefit to rules on land banks.

      We are agreed that a free-flowing market is the goal to aim for, though I think you underestimate the biggest cause of the stuck market which is the tripling of prices in a decade (an asset bubble my any measure), which has not deflated due to assorted ill-advised interventions most notably the widespread availability of cheap interest-free mortgage finance which has allowed people to live in properties which are in reality somewhat above their means.

      The best thing to get the market moving (and for society in general) would be a fall in property values to something closer to long-term averages relative to incomes. Winners would vastly outnumber losers in this scenario, indeed high house prices are major factors in UK uncompetitiveness and an increasing brain drain of the talented and educated from these shores.

      And think of the benefit to UK PLC if there was more disposable income to be spent or invested in businesses, rather than paid over to banks as mortgage payments..

  • jimil

    Given the fact that the amount of land in Britain is finite, and the population is increasing rapidly. For how long are the government planning to encorage new house building? Second assuming everyone has a house/home at the moment(no great homelessness crises?), surely building more homes just depresses house values?

  • Steerage

    The government believes and uses the figure for their reducing immigration ‘target’ that 27,000 Romanians arrived here from 2007 to 2010 yet 81,000 Romanians (adults only) managed to register in person for national insurance numbers.

    They are out by a factor of three at least.

    You could not make it up, yet the government’s Office of National Statistics (ONS) has.
    So where do they all live?

    Unanswered parliamentary question: Lord Laird to ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Wallace of Saltaire on 22 October 2012 (WA 28–9), why there is a difference between the estimate of 27,000 Romanians entering the United Kingdom in the four years from 2007–2010 and the figure of 81,630 adult Romanians registering for national insurance numbers in those years; which of those figures was used in annual net migration statistics for their migration target purposes; and whether they will review the efficacy of the International Passenger Survey as their preferred immigration measure. [CO] HL3124

  • William Lenthall

    Is the Minister prepared to use taxpayer’s cash to support house prices at current levels and prevent prices returning to historic equilbrium of about 3.5 * single salary?

    • Acacia Avenue

      The ‘historic equilibrium’ was more like 3.8x (two salaries), by my reckoning but that aside, one cannot expect this relationship to remain a constant when one masively ramps up the population and simultaneously decreases the number of new houses built. It’s simple economics.

      • William Lenthall

        And yet my Grandfathers and father managed to buy modest homes and raise families on a single (civil engineers) income with sufficient saving for pensions and an annual holiday. I bought my first two bed house for 3.6 * my salary as a new graduate programmer. Now for a simiar position, the new grad has to fork out 6.5 * salary for the same property between 1997 and 2012.

      • itdoesntaddup

        Between 1952 (start of Nationwide index) and 1970 house prices were fairly stable in inflation adjusted terms, at around £50,000 in current money.

  • Tom Paine

    Oh one more thing, could the Minister comment on whether he thinks it’s sensible to sucker gullible first time buyers into ‘affordable’ shared ownership schemes for ‘starter homes’ when ALL the evidence is that moving on from these homes is fraught with difficulty and rarely results in a good financial outcome? (Unless you are on the board of a housebuider of course).

    Wouldn’t effort be better spent finding ways to reduce prices for all new home buyers by increasing supply of cheap land while ensuring housebuilders don’t profiteer from this?

    Indeed could the housing minister comment on whether he things current high house prices (still way above historic averages by around 40%, when compared to household income) are a good thing for the government to spend money propping up via these sorts of housbuilder subsidy schemes as well as asset support arrangements like QE?

    Or will he be like his predecessor doing lots of pretend handwringing about the plight of young people looking for an affordable roof over their heads, while at the same time being only genuinely concerned with housebuilder profits?

    • Thomas Paine

      Just to add it would be utterly tedious (if predictable) for the Minister to dodge the many valid and pertinent questions here and just use this as a platform to promote the so-called Housing Strategy which is just the same old failed stuff that his failed predecessor was peddling:

      * New Buy incentives to line the pockets of housebuilders and help the credulous into debt for overpriced rubbish they’ll struggle to move on from

      * ‘Right to buy’, bigger discounts for social housing tenants to buy scarce social housing stock – though precisely which of the big structural problems this solves is a total mystery, especially since the money doesn’t go to build any more

      * Self-Build, which is a bit of low volume window-dressing and a nice to have but once again totally misses the point in the bigger scheme of things.

      * Beat the banks up to lend to borderline borrowers, on falling assets – surely it’s in all our interests for banks to learn how to price risk appropriately, and not have their arms twisted to lend under sub-prime conditions?

  • Tom Paine

    I have some questions:

    What will the Government be doing to rebalance things back towards private buyers and away from the BTL speculators that have driven the market up to such an extent that private buyers are priced out? (Speficially, get the treasury to end the tax breaks introduced under Labour that drive this, and level the playing field for ordinary buyers).

    Will the Government consider a policy of ‘use it or we tax it’ to force companies to build on the massive land banks they have built up, rather than waiting till prices go up again? (Another one for the Treasury).

    Will the Government re-draw ‘local average’ rules on Housing Benefit that have led to ever higher amounts of taxpayers’ money going direct to BTL speculators (I don’t have the numbers but HB is now more than the entire Higher Education budget). The waste involved in this is, frankly, shameful. (One for Eric Pickles perhaps).

    Hmm reading this it’s no surprise that Grant Shapps was such a waste of space at Housing, the Housing brief doesn’t seem to cover anything but dumb makework schemes for housebuilders, the real structural problems are elsewhere. Perhaps the Minister could comment on whether there’s any point in his existence?

    • majestic whine

      Please answer these. Plus convince us that politicians who have, on the whole, filled their boots with property and BTL investment will actually do anything to increase housebuilding when this will be to the obvious detriment of their own finances.

    • mombers

      Um, there is no Capital Gains Tax or Schedule A tax payable (abolished in 1963) on owner occupied housing, so the system is heavily tilted towards homeowners. Throw in massive subsidies like CrossRail, the Tube, good school catchment areas (none of which paid for by homeowners) and you get a system where landowners cream off the fruits of everyone else’s labour and capital. BtL at least pays a little tax (although it is easy to evade or avoid)

      • Tom Paine

        Tax BTL like a proper business and see how it stacks up. At the moment the lack of proper business taxes – as well as lax regulation and lack of compulsory registration of landlords that enables both abuses of tenants and widespread tax evasion – stack the cards firmly in favour of BTLers against private individuals competing against them for the same properties.

        And are you seriously arguing that we invest too much in schools and infrastructure? In the UK? Are you bonkers?

        • itdoesntaddup

          Adding taxes to BTL simply means that rents have to be higher. Far better to cut subsidies to BTL, such as the absurd levels of Housing Landlord Benefit, and highly subsidised interest rates.

          • RobinS

            Adding taxes to BTL will almost certainly not increase rents. Landlords, like any other business, charge as much as the market can bear. If they could charge higher rents, they would already do so.

            As a point of proof, interest rates have fallen dramatically since 2007, lowering the costs for landlords. Has there been a decrease in rents as a result? Of course not. Neither higher nor lower costs will be passed on to customers in a market with inelastic supply.

        • mombers

          No, we need to invest more in infrastructure. Paying for it by taxing capital and labour results in tax evasion, business closures and unemployment, whereas paying for it via taxing the unearned uplift in land values destroys nothing.

      • Acacia Avenue

        And there was me thinking I had bought my house with the cream from my own labour – after having paid tax on it and then paid a massive hit of Stamp Duty tax just for the ‘priviledge’ of buying it.

        By paying more for a house in a good catchment area don’t the buyers pay more and hence pay more stamp duty to live there?

        Infrastructure benefits all of us, even renters and Stamp Duty provides a massive tax take to help pay for this. People who rent avoid Stamp Duty and do not pay their fair share! 😉

        • mombers

          “Infrastructure benefits all of us, even renters”

          Tell that to a taxpayer who involuntarily stumps up for CrossRail, then has her rent bumped up because she now lives near a rail station! She either has to hand over even more for rent, or move further away, INCREASING her commute time and possibly cost.

          A modestly sized house costs £100k to build tops. Surely I should not pay more than that? If a £100k house is worth £500k because it is in a good catchment area, near a tube station and, I should pay the providers of these services, not the person who has a piece of paper from the government that they may or may not have paid Stamp Duty to get. Council tax covers barely 25% of local services and is capped at a paltry £2.5k or so.

          I earn in the top 5% of incomes in the country BTW. It’s quite frustrating that I have to shoehorn my family into a small two bed maisonette that we have subsequently found out is black market, i.e. an illegal subdivision. Had I been born 40 years ago, I’d be in the cream of the country’s housing stock. So much for meritocracy.

    • John Moss

      What tax breaks Tom? Profit is taxed, Capital Gains are taxed. VAT is paid and not recoverable on repairs and maintenance.

  • William Haworth

    Housebuilding figures don’t need to get healthy again; we need to get rid of the 300,000 illegal immigrants (apparently) living here, which would free up some space, and then decide if we need to continue importing people to do unskilled work, while we have unemployed people already living in the current housing stock. We cannot continue to build new homes, schools, roads and shops all over the South-East, in order to house extra people we don’t need. So, my question is, are you going to look at the root causes of the housing shortage, or are you going to do your best to cure the symptom, regardless of the cost to the country?

  • Colonel Mustard

    Given Theresa May’s admission about unlimited Rumanian and Bulgarian immigration after December 2013 what is Mr Prisk going to do to ensure that there are sufficient taxpayer funded central London mansions available to accommodate the influx?