George Hollingbery is the Member of Parliament for Meon Valley. His article is the last in a seven part series of articles by Conservative MPs, each discussing the Coalition's policies to get more people into good homes.
We all know there’s a problem with housing in the UK.
Demand for housing outstrips supply. Yet, despite good progress under the Coalition with housing starts in the last year increasing by 29% compared with 2008/9 and 17% compared with 2009/10, the Home Builders Federation report that numbers of housing starts still undershoot demand by a considerable margin.
The Government has been doing a great deal to help from the introduction of the New Homes Bonus to streamlining the planning system and offering help to first time buyers. We have also heard of plans to introduce build now, pay later schemes on surplus public sector land, changes in tenure rules to allow Housing Associations and councils to build more housing and now the increased Right to Buy program that will recycle receipts into new homes.
But within all this there is a surprising fact: across the England there are some 700,000 dwellings standing empty of which 300,000 or so have been that way for over 6 months. How can it be that, when there are so many people wanting a home of their own, there are so many existing dwellings left unused?