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Excitement does not describe what I am feeling about the December election at this time, more cynicism and a sense of Déjà vu.
We have been told for months, if not years, that if we ever exit the European Union, we will all suffer. Prices will increase, jobs will be lost as companies move their business bases from the UK to European Union countries. But in the middle of this turmoil, we will spend X millions on an election, because our Prime Minister, elected by his own party with massive support, are now not prepared to support him.
Whether you are a Boris fan or not, he has had a raw deal when his supporters have now bit him in the bottom.
I think my disillusion with politics leading up to the December election is because it appears that despite promises made in manifestos, pledges made at party conferences, it seems little gets done. Inside Housing reported in 8th November issue that David Cameron (remember him? The Prime Minister before last) wanted to build 200,000 new homes to help first time buyers.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) seemed to make a start on that, spending nearly £174 million acquiring land for Starter Homes in 2015/16 and 2017/18. Starter homes, announced in 2014, were to house first-time buyers under the age of 40 and with a 20 per cent discount on the market price.
Whilst this scheme may have been little help to the low-paid, unable to raise a deposit, it is easy to see that this would appeal to the ‘generation rent’, the professionals, the well-paid, just struggling to get on the housing ladder. At the November Spending Review in 2015, the Government allocated £2.3 billion to help fund the first 60,000 Starter Homes. These are large sums of money and show the Government’s commitment to deliver on their pledges.
So, leading up to this December election four years on, how many Starter Homes have been sold? How many of Generation Rent can thank the Conservative Government for their new homes?
Perhaps 60,000 was too many. I have commented before that I did not believe that the private rented sector was at risk in the immediate short-term as I did not believe that they could deliver the number of new-builds that they publicised. So have there been 40,000 Starter Homes? Perhaps 20,000?
The disappointing answer is – not one! A big fat zero. The National Audit Office (NAO) said on 5th November that all the sites designated for Starter Homes had been used for other projects and that the legislation was never put in place and this was why no homes had been built for this scheme. Apparently, the manifesto pledge for 200,000 Starter Homes was abandoned in the Housing White Paper in February 2017.
Meg Hillier, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, said: ‘The department needs to focus on delivery and not raise and then dash people’s expectations.’ Did people have expectations that magically, decent homes would appear? I somehow doubt it. Perhaps my memory is too long, and I sit here, an aged cynic.
Will the December election bring new hope for the housing sector? That remains to be seen.
The Private Sector is the only way some will find themselves in a nice property, in the short-term, if not permanently. Up your management skills, take as tenants those that have planned their future, with good deposits, furniture, support and secure (as far as that is possible) employment.
For advice on buy to let issues – Ask Sharon