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I was very interested to read an article in The Times on Saturday 7 January 2017 regarding proposals from the UK Government to give tax breaks for a new generation of prefabricated home manufacturers. This is part of a package to reinvigorate Britain’s failing housing market and to ensure that the government hits its target of building a million new houses in the next five years. I do think that this is a welcomed proposal as there have been some significant improvements and innovations in the house building process recently and house builders of all sizes should be encouraged through tax breaks to investigate and take advantage of these new techniques.
This article in The Times coincided with a very interesting article I was reading by Graham Norwood in which he led the call for more direct housing i.e. council house/housing association properties, making the point over the last few years successive governments of varying political hues have failed to inspire the house builders to increase the amount of properties that are being built. I am a great believer and in fact think that it is of fundamental importance to society that people have the opportunity to live in quality housing. The scourge of homelessness and dilapidated properties is one that desperately needs to be tackled.
I feel that it is important that for both political and economic reasons that our society is underpinned by home ownership. I have detailed in previous blogs the assistance that I think requires to be given to first time buyers and I would wholeheartedly support any incentives to help builders increase the amount of properties that are being built but I do also think that there should be a controlled increase in the amount of social housing being built. I very much liked Graham Norwood’s suggestion of “community housing” although it is interesting that as part of his article he does state that he would much prefer to live in a privately owned property than one that is either council or community owned. For this reason I would advocate a return to some form of controlled right to buy with strict rules and guidelines in relation to properties being built and, for every property sold under right to buy, a certain number would be required to be built to replace them. I think that some form of right to buy or shared equity scheme could be used to assist people to actually get on the housing ladder and might be a means of controlling house prices. I will explore this theme further over the weeks to come.