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Solutions for the housing crisis


Laura Tweedy

Ed Milibandís ideas to solve the housing crisis need some backing up, argues Laura Tweedy

Laura Tweedy

The latest figures from the House Building Statistics released in August show that building is up 18% compared with the same period last year.

Commentators have been quick to argue that this is nowhere near enough what is needed to remedy Britainís housing crisis. Ed Milibandís suggestion that 200,000 homes will be built by 2020 is of impressive scale.

Mr Miliband proposes to penalise developers who are sitting on prime development land. He will have to be careful to ensure penalties do not infringe on article 1, protocol 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights. This states developers and individuals are entitled to peaceful enjoyment of their land and any penalties must be proportionate.

Perhaps a more effective strategy to encourage development would be to give developers incentives. Changes to tax legislation could make it more profitable for them to build. Releasing land from the green belt may be necessary to deliver Mr Milibandís bold promises. Alternatively local authority borrowing caps could be lifted.

Mr Miliband also promises to control private rents. If private sector rents were controlled, social landlords would not be able to increase social rents, and profit margins would become static. That, coupled with a new rent formula, would make for unhappy businesses.

Housing minister Brandon Lewis has nevertheless announced that 13 social landlords will be given £208m in loans, enough for 4,800 affordable homes. This may sweeten the blow if Labour win the election, and could work alongside Milibandís proposals to increase development.

Laura Tweedy is a barrister at Hardwicke Chambers

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