Will Ms ‘Truss’ be the structural support this government needs?
It has been a long time coming..Finally after weeks of debate and argument as well as what has felt like a vacuum in the top job, we have a new Prime Minister. And we are taking a look at just what Prime Minister Truss will do with one of the current burning issues (and one we care a lot about): housing.
Top of the pile in the new PM’s in tray is likely to be how to deal with the cost of living crisis, so it’s not surprising that one of the priorities for Prime Minister Truss is to see how we can cut down on living costs within our own homes. In addition to sweeping tax cuts across the board, one of her starting points is to get rid of the green levies which we all pay on energy bills which would make a saving of, on average, £153 per year. With energy costs escalating we know that every little helps, but this saving barely touches the likely hike in energy costs. Other measures such as insulating loft spaces which can save £230 on an average energy bill for a terrace property, would help alongside the cutting of green levies and would help Ms Truss’s green credentials. Her rival Rishi Sunak expounded this policy, but Ms Truss has not suggested she will give financial support for these measures.
Our new PM has been vocal throughout her campaign about top-down, Whitehall inspired Stalinis housing targets. We assume she does not like them! She has certainly got them clearly within her sights to abolish, replacing them with removal of restrictions to boost housebuilding and other development in new investment zones. She believes such zonal planning will generate economic growth with a view to enhancing ‘levelling-up’. This would mean that permission would be automatically granted in areas which are within an investment zone and are earmarked for development. And she is prepared to look at development on both green belt and brownfield sites in these areas. Although this is would be a potentially brave move given that reforms in these areas have previously been very unpopular, it is more important to see reforms that will reduce the time taken to get planning consent across the board which are currently running at unprecedented, and unacceptable, delays in most areas of the country.
Home ownership remains high on the new PM’s agenda. She looks likely to continue the current Right to Buy scheme but has some innovative ideas of her own. These include using rent payments as part of mortgage affordability assessments which will help those wanting to make the leap from renting to buying. However, with dark clouds for the housing market looming on the horizon it remains to be seen how much of a priority this will now be for potential first time buyers.
We have all heard the rhetoric from Ms Truss and now, after what seems like an eternity, she has the keys to Number 10 we look forward to seeing how the bones of her housing policy, amongst others, will be fleshed out.
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