View from business: Forget business we need to build

PUBLISHED: 08:00 02 December 2017


Politicians talk about wanting a high wage economy. They can’t really mean it, as that would result in a globally uncompetitive Britain.

Politicians talk about wanting a high wage economy. They can’t really mean it, as that would result in a globally uncompetitive Britain.

What they mean is a high standard of living economy, where the wages people receive go further. This is when we need to cut costs not put up prices. The largest proportion of any household spending is accommodation so we need to bring down costs, whether house prices or rental costs.

The only way to achieve this is by building, but we need to do this NOW. All the government Help-do-buy type schemes do is increase property prices if they are not accompanied by extra supply. Yes, it was a neat gimmick to help first time buyers not having to pay stamp duty, but mark my words, all this will do is push property prices up another one percent, if the supply remains unchanged.

The chancellor said he wishes to launch a consultation into why land assets, even with planning permission are not converted into housing stock. It’s very simple; it’s not profitable to do it. The cost of building with all the associated regulations and taxes, requirements for affordable housing etc make it unattractive. So instead developers increase land values by obtaining permissions, in itself a challenging process, but stop there. A consultation is not the answer. We’ve consulted about a third runway at Heathrow for 20 years but built nothing. We simply need to build. Deregulate planning, reduce development taxes and you will see a house building boom like never before. I’d bet my house on it. The demand is there.

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