Editor’s comment Only time will tell…

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Patrick Mooney, News Editor

The long awaited Housing White Paper, ‘Fixing our broken housing market’, has succeeded in dividing the experts over its likely chances of success. Most commentators praised the thoroughness of its analysis and identification of the problems. But once attention turned to the proposed solutions, opinions became sharply divided and I was left thinking “Is this a missed opportunity?” Listening to Ministers doing the rounds of TV and radio studios you could be forgiven for thinking Governments

were almost powerless and could not have prevented the current state of affairs. We all agree there is no ‘silver bullet’ but half hearted pledges to do something (anything!) while extolling local councils, builders and private landlords to “just do more” do not amount to a comprehensive housing policy. Nevertheless it was welcome news to hear the Government no longer believes all our housing woes can be

solved simply by building more houses for sale. They acknowledged we need to build more homes, of all types, and in places where people want to live. They just don’t want any building on the Green Belt!

Brexit fears

Fixing the broken housing market will require a strong commitment from the very top of Government. They need to provide the legislative time along with serious amounts of money to sort out the many deep-rooted problems. My fear is that Brexit is now an all-consuming distraction that comes with a very hefty price tag. Former Conservative housing minister Grant Shapps probably spoke for a lot of people when he told the BBC's

Daily Politics show, that the problem would not be solved simply "by slotting in a few more homes in converted former industrial sites". Some of the most impassioned contributions have came from young people (members of Generation Rent) who feel trapped in expensive or sub-standard privately rented accommodation.

Questions They want to know why the new three year tenancies are being restricted to newly built to rent schemes and why tougher action isn’t being taken against bad landlords, who refuse to carry out repairs and evict tenants at the first sign of a complaint? They also want to know why their local councils are not being allowed to borrow money to build new homes for

rent or sale at truly affordable prices and why proceeds from Right to Buy sales are not being used to replace sold properties? Communities Secretary of State Sajid Javid has promised for months to tackle house-builders head on and to

ensure the planning system delivers new housing of all types. But the solutions look destined to only partially succeed in the long-term. Perhaps the final words should be left with Graeme Brown, interim chief executive of the homelessness charity

Shelter, who said: "The White Paper poses the right questions. But what we need now is quick and bold action that helps people in need of a decent home tomorrow, not in 10 years time."



On the cover...

The March cover of Housing Management & Maintenance features Hjaltland Housing Association’s new Lyndhurst Place scheme, which delivered 12 flats in close proximity to the centre of Lerwick in Shetland, Scotland.

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