Stephen Hammond is the Member of Parliament for Wimbledon. His article is the second in a seven part series of articles by Conservative MPs, each discussing the Coalition's policies to get more people into good homes.
Shadow Housing Minister Jack Dromey, incredibly Labour’s eleventh holder of the brief since 1997, yesterday talked about a "growing housing crisis", in a sign that Labour may finally have woken up to the mess they left behind. With Labour out of office, the recovery is now underway, the latest figures showing that housebuilding is up over a quarter under the Coalition. And yesterday the Government’s wide-ranging new Housing Strategy was unveiled to break the cycle in which the lenders won’t lend, the builders can’t build and the buyers can’t buy.
Dromey’s answer to kick-start housing is to re-introduce a "bank bonus tax to fund 100,000 jobs for young people and build 25,000 more affordable homes". But Labour in Opposition have already spent the proceeds of this ten times over. And Alistair Darling, the Chancellor who first introduced the tax, said it could only ever be a one-off. Even if the proposal were economically literate, 25,000 homes would not go nearly far enough in fixing the shortfall left by Labour. Our strategy is far more ambitious, aiming to deliver several times that number. Perhaps Dromey’s predecessor Alison Seabeck wasn’t wrong when she recently admitted Labour "won’t rush into policy making" on housing.
Although, when they do enter the policy debate, one is quickly reminded why Labour should never again be left in charge of housing. At a time when we need to be rolling back Labour’s bureaucratic legacy, Dromey has recently called for more regulation on the private rented sector, which would impose more burdensome red tape on good landlords across the country. This would also raise the cost of renting privately, which flies in the face of his criticism that rental prices are already soaring. And at Labour Party Conference, he clamoured for the return of unelected regional quangos and housebuilding targets that proved so damaging to the housing market under Labour in the first place.