Government Housing White Paper will not fix broken market say Cambridge councillors

PUBLISHED: 16:01 09 February 2017

Cambridge Guildhall. Picture Keith Heppell

Cambridge Guildhall. Picture Keith Heppell

Iliffe Media Ltd

Cambridge city’s Labour councillors have said the Government’s housing strategy is ‘a huge disappointment’.

Cambridge’s housing challenges will not be solved by the Government’s Housing White Paper, the city’s Labour councillors have claimed.

The Government’s paper, under the title Fixing our Broken Housing Market, paves the way for a number of measures such as:

■ Forcing councils to produce an up-to-date plan for housing demand

■ Avoiding low-density housing where land is in short supply

■ Using £3billion to help smaller building firms challenge major developers

■ Introducing a lifetime ISA to help first-time buyers save for a deposit

■ Maintaining protection for the green belt, which can only be built on ‘in exceptional circumstances’

■ Banning letting agents’ fees

Cllr Kevin Price, deputy leader and executive councillor for housing, said: “The White Paper has been a long time coming and is a huge disappointment for those who need to rent a home and those who want to buy a home. There is nothing in there which does more than tweak the current situation 
and nothing which will increase the 
supply of homes and address the housing affordability crisis which impacts so greatly on Cambridge residents.

“The Government acknowledges that the housing market is broken but then does nothing to fix it. When the definition of someone who can access ‘affordable’ housing has to include an annual [household] income of up to £80,000 a year (and £90,000 in London) but the average income in Cambridge is only £31,000 a year, this White Paper will give no hope to most people that their housing situation will ever change.”

Cllr Lewis Herbert, leader of the city council, added: “Cambridge is building homes at a faster rate than almost any other council and yet once again the Government has chosen to blame councils for what is actually the failure of national housing policy and its almost total reliance on the private sector to deliver homes for market sale and for rent.

“We were looking to this White Paper to free councils to build themselves as the only time the country has ever achieved the rate of build needed to tackle the housing crisis is when local authorities delivered homes themselves.

“Last year the housing completion figures were the worst ever, with only 32,000 affordable homes built nationally and less than 5,000 in the East of England where new homes are desperately needed.”

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