Published: Monday 2nd March 2015 by The News Editor
David Cameron will pledge to double to 200,000 the number of cut-price starter homes to be built under a Conservative scheme as general election skirmishes move on to rival solutions to housing shortages.
The Prime Minister will target under-40s priced out of the first-home market by offering developers the chance to build on cheaper brownfield commercial land and waiving taxes – in return for a 20% cut in the sale price.
But Labour leader Ed Miliband will dismiss “uncosted, unfunded…pie in the sky” announcements by a party that had “betrayed” young people by failing to build even half the new homes needed.
Severe shortages have fuelled soaring rents, long waiting lists for council homes, record numbers living with parents into their 30s and has become a symbolic issue in bitter debates over the cost of living.
Town halls are also to be forced to help find people seeking to build their own homes suitable brownfield sites.
In the last of six speeches highlighting the key themes of the Tory campaign for May’s poll, Mr Cameron will also say that relaxed rules allowing extensions to be built without planning permission and offices converted to homes would be extended to 2020 if he retains power.
“Young people are getting a job, working for years, saving away but still unable to buy – stuck living with their parents, sometimes into their 30s.
“We want to build a country that rewards those who work hard and do the right thing.”
Under the scheme, first announced at the Conservative Party conference in September, the g overnment would release cheaper, commercial brownfield land for housebuilding – with properties reserved for first-time buyers aged under 40.
Such land is not normally made available for housebuilding and can be bought more cheaply, with firms signing up to pass on the savings to the buyer. Public sector land which is surplus to requirements will also be brought into the scheme.
Properties would be exempt from most of the taxes imposed on new homes, such as the social housing requirement and the community infrastructure levy – allowing the minimum 20% discount.
Prices would be capped at £250,000 outside London or £450,000 in the capital.
“Some of the UK’s biggest property developers have signed up – including Barratt and Taylor Wimpey and just this weekend we officially launched the website for buyers to register interest,” Mr Cameron will say.
“So we are going to take this good idea and accelerate it.”
Mr Cameron hailed a dossier of suggested designs, drawn up by a panel including leading architects, for properties that look ” not rabbit hutches or shoe boxes, but decent, well-built, homes with gardens – places to start and raise a family”.
The PM will concede that “too many people” had been denied the chance of home ownership.
“The young people in their 20s and 30s still living with their parents, desperately saving for their own place. The couple who want a child but can’t afford to upsize – even though they both have full-on, full-time jobs.
“It shouldn’t be this way. Our goal is a Britain where everyone who works hard can have a home of their own.”
Mr Miliband will tell voters at a public question time session that housing had been the coalition Government’s most “dismal” failure.
Labour is committed to increasing the number of new homes being built each year to 200,000 by 2020 by threatening to take land from developers who fail to use it, doing more public sector building and building a new generation of garden cities.
It also proposes action to protect tenants including three-year contracts with rent-rise ceilings and a ban on excessive letting fees.
“This Government has betrayed young people. From over-crowded school classes to trebling fees for university, David Cameron has failed this generation, loaded it up with debts and crushed aspiration,” the Opposition leader will say.
“And this Government has betrayed working families with a sustained crisis in living standards which, for the first time since the 1920s, will leave people worse off at the end of a parliament than they were at the beginning.
“But nowhere is his failure more dismal than on housing. Young people and families starting out know the dream of having a home of their own is disappearing into the distance. We are building less than half the number of homes we need and young people are being priced out of the market with the average house price now eight times the average wage.
“This Government has achieved nothing but record lows for house building and home ownership – and record highs for working people still living with their parents and young families having to pay rip off charges to rent.”
Mr Miliband will mock Tory chairman Grant Shapps over a TV interview yesterday in which he appeared unable to explain how policies would be funded which critics compared to a disastrous radio appearance on the same subject by Green Party leader Natalie Bennett.
“Yesterday the Conservative Party chairman went on TV in an effort to convince people they had a plan for housing. But instead, he couldn’t answer basic questions about where the money will come from or how their latest pie-in-the-sky scheme will work.
“In contrast, Labour has a comprehensive housing plan, not unfunded promises.
“Our plan is the first of its kind in a generation. It will build hundreds of thousands of new homes where families want to live, ensure that first-time buyers from the area are given priority access rights when these houses go on sale, and get fairer deal for millions of families that rent.”
Published: Monday 2nd March 2015 by The News Editor