If top down targets ‘indisputably failed’ according to the housing minister what can we say about the emerging alternative?
More and more small local stories are coming out which show that for many councils local freedom means the freedom not to provide homes for their residents, especially those on lower incomes (as many predicted).
Take this from the Basingstoke Gazette:
At a meeting of councillors last week, the ruling Tories called on officers to explore the “lowest possible” annual housing target after residents said too many new homes are built every year.
And Windsor and Maidenhead Conservatives are brazen in saying they want no social rented homes. Their election manifesto tells us they will:
“Only support shared equity and staircased home ownership options for affordable housing delivery”.
To give them their due, the Royal Borough does claim the construction of 157 shared ownership homes since 2007. Red Brick can only caution them that if such largess continues they should prepare for the stampede of first-time buyers heading their way.
A clear picture is emerging of a patchwork of local policies which add up in total to very few homes being built, especially for those on lower incomes.
I’m all for localism as it happens and believe we should live in a country where communities have greater local freedom to make their own decisions. I would echo Sam Elliot at the excellent ‘Unnecessary Role’ blog when he says:
“If we are an egalitarian party then not only are we fighting for equality of opportunity but we’re also fighting for equality of power (it says so on the back of the membership card). Isn’t part of that making sure that all communities have the ability to make decisions about their local area?”
But, to offer a hackneyed quote from an almost as insightful figure (Spiderman):
We must oppose a localism which excludes the absolute responsibility to provide enough homes and enough affordable homes for your residents. The coalition’s localism is an invitation to do just that, leaving other areas to carry the burden.