James Forsyth

Sort the housing crisis, or a Corbyn will win a general election

Sort the housing crisis, or a Corbyn will win a general election
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Jeremy Corbyn isn’t going to become Prime Minister. But if the housing crisis isn’t solved, the next left wing populist could—I say in The Sun this morning.

Home ownership has dropped to a 30 year low and homes are becoming increasingly unaffordable. In London the average house costs 11 times earnings. Without radical reform, the Tory idea of property owning democracy will wither and, eventually, die.

The government’s housing white paper due out next week is meant to try and solve these problems. Councils will be told to come up with realistic views of the housing needs of their area that take into account the growing population. If government thinks that their plans don’t do this, councils will be ordered to redo them.

While the status of the green belt won’t change, development will still only be allowed in ‘exceptional circumstances’, the message will, I’m told, be ‘‘build on everything else, then consider the green belt’.

An affordability formula will also attempt to ensure that the most houses are built where there is most demand. Across the country, property costs 7.7 times earnings. But in London, that rises to 11 times earnings. Councils where houses are particularly unaffordable will be told to factor that into their plans, and build more houses.

If the reforms that Sajid Javid and Theresa May have drawn up can reverse the fall in home ownership, then this government will have moved the country in the right direction