Housing legacy left by Cameron and Osborne is the strongest for a generation

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The Housing & Finance Institution has said David Cameron and George Osborne left one of the strongest housing legacies of any government for a generation

Whatever your views on the former Prime Minister David Cameron and his right hand man George Osborne both remained committed to pushing the housing agenda across the nation during their time in office.

Now, The Housing & Finance Institute has commended the work of both, stating their housing legacy is the strongest for a generation.

During their term of office, more than 750,000 new homes have been built. Final figures are expected to be released in the coming months.

Chief executive Natalie Elphicke: “This strong inheritance gives Theresa May and Phillip Hammond the opportunity to meet the Government’s one million homes by 2020 target.”

She added: “It is true we have some serious housing challenges, but it is also a fact we have made some extraordinary steps forward since David Cameron and George Osborne took control of the tiller in 2010.

“For two politicians perceived to be masters of spin and presentation, they failed to sell their ground-breaking housing achievements while in government. But they really did preside over record-breaking house building, a reformed planning policy and a package of reforms that leave our housing industry in a much stronger position than when they took office six years ago.

“Cameron and Osborne’s is the strongest housing legacy of any government for over 35 years.”

Elphicke noted the last government oversaw a quiet revolution in housing supply, due to ongoing commitment to increase supply.

“As Chancellor, Osborne put housing at the heart of Britain’s recovery and growth strategy, committing over £38 billion of public money into the sector; a scale of public finance housing support that has not seen since the post war era.

“Financial commitment has been matched by root and branch reform across all parts of government which impact on housing: planning, public finances, local government finance, local government powers and the government’s entire public land estate.”

Elphicke said a key part of this development lay in giving back control to councils and the realisation that central government alone could not fix everything. Furthermore, planning reforms also helped increase the number of properties built.

“There has been wholesale reform of planning through the introduction of the National Planning Policy Framework.

“This is helping councils and housing businesses alike understand what housing is needed and where. Action has been taken on empty homes, on better utilisation of existing social housing stock and on keeping Britain building.”

Schemes such as the flagship programme Help to Buy also helped keep the market afloat at a time when new buyers did not have the funds to secure higher deposits. It also gave builders the confidence to continue constructing new homes.

“These root and branch reforms of housing are working. Britain has more fuel in its housing tank than at any recent time. Planning permissions are at an eight year high with over 475,000 in stock at the beginning of 2016.  Over 200,000 additional homes have been added to the council tax base in the year to March 2016. There are fewer empty homes than at any time since records began.”

The HFI also praised Cameron and Osborne for social housing, as their time in office saw the highest number of households in social housing for more than a decade.

“To keep Britain building, Hammond will need to steady the global financial markets and continue with Help to Buy and other interventions,” she added.

“The previous government had dipped a toe in the water for building directly commissioned by government and was supporting the development of construction and other skills academies, encouraging off-site manufacturing, re-invigorating estate regeneration and nurturing the return of smaller builders.

“To counter the short term Brexit impact, the new government will need to accelerate the pace of change for these critical areas.”

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