The new housing minister’s much-awaited first speech at RESI, some 93 days after his appointment, has sadly failed to impress.
We have been gifted yet another housing consultation announcement, hot on the heels of the housing white paper six months ago - a document that itself many in the industry felt was ultimately a toothless regurgitation of previous announcements. The pledge to increase the number and quality of homes for the PRS is a good soundbite, but where are the details?
Our government and opposition have become accomplished in delivering papers and speeches on how to fix the housing market, but continue to fall short in delivering effective policy. It is this failure to deliver that led me earlier this month to write to Mr Sharma outlining my concerns and delivering practical policy suggestions for effecting tangible change.
Firstly, we need an increase in the number of properties available. A time-restricted capital gains tax moratorium would encourage landowners, who currently have little incentive, to sell parcels of land capable of development and enable much-needed new housing to be built.
Secondly, those looking to move on to or up the ladder face a costly hurdle: stamp duty. Despite calls to scrap or reduce it, I appreciate this would detrimentally hit the government’s coffers. Therefore reversing stamp duty so it is payable for those selling, not buying, would actively encourage homeowner aspirations, not taxing them, and go some way to assisting first-time buyers.
We need active and transformative policy. There are currently no incentives in the planning process that encourage developers, and recent policies have only served to hamper homebuilding, increase rents and prevent people from moving on to or up the ladder. Something has to change.