Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has unveiled £225m in government investment to help “unlock” several stalled housing projects and build 48,600 homes
In a speech at the National House Building Council, Clegg said that the money would be used, combined with private sector investment, to bring several housing projects to completion.
“We will provide £225m of government money which will also leverage private investment to effectively de-risk these or similar projects and get them moving.”
This push would be much needed, according to Clegg, in order to remedy the housing shortage and a lack of housing being built. The risks if action was not taken included congested cities and “haphazard urban sprawl”.
Clegg said action will not happen “overnight” but will require sincere cross-party commitment, that would be needed for more than one term of parliament.
“We can either condemn ourselves to haphazard urban sprawl – the surest way to damage the countryside, we can cram ever more people into existing settlements, concreting over gardens and parks – and bear in mind we already build the smallest homes in Western Europe, or we can build places people want to live,” he warned.
Clegg’s speech comes after statistics indicated last week that in the 12 months running up to September, new housing starts fell 9% to fewer than 100,000, although completions rose by 6% to 117,190.
Jack Dromey MP, Labour’s shadow housing minister, said: “On house building the government has made announcement after announcement followed by failure after failure.
“Rather than more empty promises we need the Government to take real action now and to tackle the housing crisis and boost our flatlining economy.
“That is why they should back Labour’s call to use the windfall from the 4G auction to build 100,000 more affordable homes, and give a stamp duty holiday to first time buyers.”
The National House Building Council has welcomed the message for Clegg’s speech in focusing on long-term issues rather than “ad-hoc intiatives”, but added:
“Such an ambitious programme shouldn’t come at the expense of other shorter-term measures which could deliver growth quicker, for example giving small parcels of public sector land over to developers to be built on.”
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