Landlords welcome Balls' call for 100,000 affordable homes in two years
Published by 24publishing for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government, Communities, Local Government
Balls calls for 100,000 homes in two years
Housing associations have welcomed shadow chancellor Ed Balls' call for 100,000 new affordable homes - for rent and purchase - to be built over the next two years.
Mr Balls made his address at the Labour party's annual conference today in Manchester in which he said that the Government's economic plan is "failing" and the need to kick-start the economy is "even more urgent".
The 100,000-homes pledge builds on last year's commitment to build 25,000 social homes funded by a tax on bankers' bonuses.
Today the shadow chancellor also called for a stamp duty holiday for first time buyers purchasing homes up to £250,000.
He said: "Conference, one year on, the need to kick-start the economy is even more urgent.
"So we must go further. With 119,000 construction jobs lost in two years and a 68 per cent fall in the number of affordable homes being built, we need bold and urgent action now.
"The Government is anticipating a windfall of up to £4bn from the sale of the 4G mobile phone spectrum.
"In the good times, Labour used every penny of the £22bn from the sale of the 3G licenses to pay off national debt. But in difficult times, we urgently need to put something back into the economy.
"So with this one-off windfall from the sale of the 4G spectrum, let’s cut through this Government’s dither and rhetoric and actually do something. Not more talk, but action right now.
"Let’s use that money from the 4G sale and build over the next two years: 100,000 new homes – affordable homes to rent and to buy - creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and getting our construction industry moving again. Add to that a stamp duty holiday for first time buyers buying homes up to £250,000 and we can deliver real help for people aspiring to get on the property ladder.
"Conference, a clear and costed plan to kick-start the economy and get people back to work. Building the homes that we need now and for the long-term. Building our way out of recession and re-building Britain for the future."
The National Housing Federation welcomed the announcement.
Chief executive David Orr said: "It will provide homes for some of the millions of families on waiting lists, create jobs and give the UK economy a shot in the arm with a speed and effectiveness few industries can match.
“Housing drives growth quickly, but almost all of its benefits are retained within local economies. Local jobs are created, local suppliers used and local people housed. House building lies at the heart of balanced, regional growth.
“Every home built creates 1.5 full-time jobs in construction alone, plus up to four times that number in the wider supply chain. Every pound spent on construction generates almost £3 in the wider economy.”
John Cridland, CBI director-general, said what stood out from Mr Balls' speech was the emphasis on new housing.
He said: “The CBI welcomes more action on housing investment, which would give a much-needed boost to growth. But such action must compliment continued efforts to reduce the deficit. The two must go together, it cannot be an either or.
“This speech firmed up Labour’s plans for investment in infrastructure, but there will clearly be tough choices ahead in their zero-based spending review, and we will need to hear more of the detail. Both will need a strong focus on effective action and delivery.”
Jon Neale, director in Jones Lang LaSalle’s residential research team, said Mr Balls' speech was "commendable in its boldness", but the suggestion is not new, with many think tanks and other bodies arguing that funding a step change in affordable housing provision would be an eminently sensible and practical thing to do.
He said: “The more interesting question is what sort of affordable housing is provided. It’s clear that conventional social housing is no longer on the policy agenda, having been replaced by ‘affordable rent’. However, there is a discussion to be had around whether some new product could be devised, allowing individuals to rent now and buy later, or whether some form of private rented properties could be provided, along the lines suggested in the Montague Review published earlier this year.”
“The suggestion that first-time buyers be exempt from stamp duty is also welcome, although such steps have been taken before both by this government and the previous one. It would help many first-time buyers, struggling with large deposit requirements, to access the market. However, with average deposits standing at around £30,000 for a typical £150,000 property – with substantial further amounts required for legal fees – stamp duty of £1,500 is hardly the highest hurdle facing the would-be first homeowner.”