X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week. If you receive it, you’ll also find your subscriber number at the top of our weekly highlights email.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.spectator.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050. If you’ve only just subscribed, you may not yet have been issued with a subscriber number. In this case you can use the temporary web ID number, included in your email order confirmation.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

If you have any difficulties creating an account or logging in please take a look at our FAQs page.

Coffee House

George Osborne: Housing crisis will still be here in 10 years’ time

4 February 2014

6:19 PM

4 February 2014

6:19 PM

George Osborne’s evidence to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee was dispiriting for a number of reasons. The first was that he told the peers that the chances are that politicians will still be struggling to ensure that housing supply keeps up with demand in 10 years’ time. He said:

‘I imagine if we were all assembled again in 10 years’ time we’d still be talking about the challenge of making sure that our housing supply kept up with housing demand and we’re all legislators here and we all have a responsibility to the next generation.’

Part of his point was that the housing crisis is so big that it would be foolish and rather grandiose for one Chancellor to think that five years’ worth of policymaking would be enough to solve it. But as he spoke, there was just the ghost of dissatisfaction with the policies his government has managed to introduce. Asked whether he thought the current planning settlement was enough, he said:

George Osborne: Well I think the planning reforms are clearly working and you see planning approvals up, planning application up, and the percentage of planning approvals up, and more construction. The various schemes – I mentioned the Help to Buy Shared Equity scheme is supporting the construction of new homes and other schemes to support the builders who need help with their cash flow – and then we have a large social housing programme as well underway, so across the board we are pulling a lot of levers but this is a historic problem for the United Kingdom.

Baroness Noakes: Are there any further changes needed to the planning regime, not that they’d necessarily be popular?

Osborne: Well, look I think at the moment, we’ve just got this new planning regime, and, you know I’m keen to see it bed down and have its effect, it is having, I think, a positive effect in creating new homes, and those homes are being built in appropriate places.

[Alt-Text]


It’s well known that few people in the Treasury really think that the current planning reforms are sufficient. But they also don’t think there’s much they can do before the General Election because voters have been so antagonised by it.

There are a few things, though, that ministers could tweak to at least calm things down at the moment. I understand that the whips are taking soundings from Tory MPs at the moment about whether their councils have local plans in place and the problems with new development in their areas. It will be interesting to see what they come up with.

But there are no tweaks on the way for the Help to Buy scheme: he rejected suggestions that he could reduce the current £600,000 cap on the value of the properties that people can buy with the government’s help.

P.S. I stumbled across some advice for Osborne in our archive… from Enoch Powell in 1950. On whether it was possible for the Conservative party to meet its 1950 pledge of building 300,000 homes, Powell wrote:

‘One more question, which was perhaps the real meaning of the original one: “Can we build 300,000 houses a year and still keep Socialist planning and control ? ” This time the answer is No.’

Interestingly, one of Number 10’s newest advisers, Alex Morton, would argue that the government has kept Socialist planning and control to this day: his Policy Exchange report on planning reform is quite clear that the reforms need to be far more radical than the current settlement. It will be interesting to see how his thinking influences policy from now on.

Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.


Show comments
Close