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Spending Review: Time to sell off more public land for housing

The Telegraph this morning reported that Chancellor George Osborne will announce a huge housebuilding programme as part of the Spending Review.

The plans involve a doubling of the Government’s housing budget and money for a series of programmes to build 400,000 homes across England.

Baroness Jo Valentine, Chief Executive of London First, responded to the news saying:

“Housebuilding in London is absolutely a priority. We need to get 50,000 homes built a year, rather than about 25,000 which we currently get.

“It sounds like they’re trying to do something in this spending review, which is great. But we do need to watch very carefully for them just relabelling old money. So whether this is genuinely new money and they’re genuinely going to spend this on genuinely new homes I would keep a very close eye on.

“One solution is to throw money at the problem – so the government subsidises new homes. But we all know about constrained public finances, so we’ve got to find slightly more subtle ways of doing it. The National Health Service has masses of property that is unused and the local authorities have quite a lot, so we’ve got to get that land out to market so that people can build houses on it.

“The other thing I would say is that the current government is obsessed with home ownership. In London, a lot of people would be happy to get houses they could afford to rent.”

London First has recently helped set up Fifty Thousand Homes, a business-led campaign to double housebuilding in London to at least 50,000 homes a year by the end of the next Mayoralty in 2020, in order to protect and enhance the capital’s competitiveness as a global city.

The campaign coalition includes over one hundred business leaders, along with the support of London First, CBI London, FSB London, Shelter, and others.

For business in London to continue to flourish we must build far greater numbers of homes to accommodate a growing workforce. The campaign’s aim is to ensure that the Mayoral candidates have credible and deliverable housebuilding plans and for the new Mayor’s housebuilding plan to then be implemented.

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