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Housing minister should take long-term focus to fix lack of policy consistency – Marketwatch

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  • 26/02/2020
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Housing minister should take long-term focus to fix lack of policy consistency – Marketwatch
The rotating door of Housing Ministers just let another MP through, this time Christopher Pincher, the tenth to take up the position in ten years.

 

In that time, the issues facing the housing sector have remained a constant. Affordability has worsened for many as house deposits have increased and the issue of under supply has not been addressed. 

This week, Mortgage Solutions asked: What should the main focus of the new housing minister be?

 

Dominik LipnickiDominik Lipnicki, director of Your Mortgage Decisions 

We have now seen a staggering ten housing ministers in the last ten years, with only two ministers lasting more two years. In fact, we have seen 19 different people holding that post since 2000. 

In my view, this shows that the government is not taking the issue of housing seriously. Policy planning is a long-term project and the constant changes will do little to fix the housing crisis. 

We all know that successive governments of all colours have failed to build enough homes, hence some stability in the post now would be most welcome. The minister should have a clearly defined path with set targets for new affordable and council housing being built.  

We have a planning application process that’s far too lengthy and complicated, we have companies holding onto land rather than building much-needed housing and too much of what is being built, is housing beyond the financial reach of most of the population. 

The housing minister should set local councils a house building target that they would have to meet. 

Rather than the headline grabbing initiatives of the past, long-term plans should be put in place in conjunction with other government departments such as the Treasury.  

We know that there is no “silver bullet” here and more spending alone will not fix the problem but with people having to live longer at home or having to wait for an inheritance before buying their first home, something must be done. 

Time will tell if Christopher Pincher will be given the opportunity to really make a difference, history tells us that he will be gone within months rather than years. 

 

John Phillips, national operations director, Just Mortgages 

It’s really important that the new housing minister should focus on the long term. There have been way too many quick fixes, mostly aimed at first-time buyers, over recent years.  

That’s an important section of the market but focusing on them to the exclusion of others isn’t going to solve the long-term problems in the market. 

There’s definitely been a lack of consistency in policy in recent years, and the chopping and changing of ministers clearly hasn’t helped. After all, if we’re still talking about the same problems as we were ten or 20 years ago then that’s a pretty obvious indicator that policy hasn’t been working. 

It wouldn’t matter quite so much if the government as a whole had a consistent policy, but it’s been too short-term and focused mainly on garnering votes among key demographics rather than fostering a sustainable housing market. 

The focus needs to be on why we are not building enough homes, and why we’re not making the best use of existing stock. Those are the reasons we have an affordability problem for first-time buyers and why young families are forced to live in cramped and unsuitable homes. 

In an ideal world, Christopher Pincher would have several years to get his head round the brief and really master the detail. It’s not possible for someone just to come in and very quickly take decisions that will make a positive difference. There needs to be a strategy, not just a series of headline-grabbing initiatives. 

 

Akhil Mair, managing director and specialist mortgage broker at Our Mortgage Broker

There have been ten ministers based at Westminster tasked with tackling the housing crisis in the last ten years which shows the uncertainty and task of correcting the housing market for the UK.  

It is widely documented that we have a supply and demand issue and it is up to the necessary central and local governments to come together and align their objectives in order to help developers and builders to ultimately build sustainable and affordable home for those wishing to get on the property ladder.  

I don’t believe the ministerial changes have weakened the property market at all, I think it is more of an issue around legislation, regulation, taxes on the private rental sector which is the constant battle for landlords to deal with. 

For one, I think the new housing minister should work closely with developers to understand the issues around local government planning authorities.  

Also, it would help if the central government reduced stamp duty land tax for properties worth £1m and over as this will stimulate the property market 

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