Nothin to say

Corbyn and May had little to offer SME developers

Now that the “Conference Season’ is over, Notion Developments thought it was a good time to evaluate just what our two main Parties had to say on the topic of housing – and help for SME developers in particular.

Mrs May assured Britain’s housebuilders that government would make sure land was available for us to build homes and that young people have the skills we need. Sounds great, but that was it – there was nothing further said to give us additional information on those two statements.  So, nice sound bite – but no substance.

The Tories big plan was to help over 130,000 more families by investing a further £10 billion in Help to Buy.  However, critics of Help to Buy say that high earners who don’t need it are taking advantage of the system and some argue that it is actually driving up house prices.  As a builder and developer in the North West of England, we would have liked to have seen that extra funding going towards schemes that actually help to build homes, particularly in our region.

Social housing rent was highlighted at both Conferences, the Tories said housing associations and councils could apply for a grant from a new £2 billion funding pot and in areas of high rent, their solution was to allow social rent, not affordable rent, which can be quite high at 80% of market rent.

On the issue of unaffordable rent, Mr Corbyn promised to support rent controls.  However, the detail was vague.  In areas like London, where property prices are high, landlords will have large mortgage payments which dictate the rent they charge. Rent control would probably encourage landlords to sell rather than rent, which would mean there is less housing stock available to rent.  This high demand would itself lead to higher rent!  It is our view that rent control cannot work in isolation and so there would need to be a major review on housing strategy for it to have any impact.

Labour said little about the private housing market other than to tax under developed land held by developers - the ‘use it or lose it’ strategy of Ed Miliband.  Another great sound bite but again, light on the detail.  While this could work with the larger companies that land bank prime locations as an investment, it would be counterproductive for smaller companies and individuals who own land but, for various reasons, are not in a position to develop immediately.

And so overall, while both Parties agreed housing was in crisis and housing was a priority – there was no big idea from either.   Nothing has changed or looks set to change any time soon. 

Last modified on Wednesday, 25 October 2017 10:09