Does Eric Pickles know there's a housing crisis on?

Apr 10, 2015 3:23 PM

Today's Financial Times (registration required) reports that the Department for Communities and Local Government has blocked nearly 10,000 new homes from being built since the start of 2015.

What on earth is the government playing at? 

David Cameron has recently bemoaned the "chronic" house building shortage and wants to be seen as the prime minister who will resurrect owner occupation from its 12-year slump. He's not going to achieve that with a subsidised mortgage scheme that only higher earners can access, so the government has no option to pull its finger out and get those houses built.

Seeing ministers blow an opportunity to house thousands of families (and burnish their record on housing) is dispiriting. Unfortunately we don't have the detail of which of the 18 schemes were affected, or if there were genuine flaws with the plans, but by doing this so close to an election, the government is doing nothing but shredding their pro-housing credentials. Antics like this start making their attacks on the last lot's house building stats ring a bit hollow.

It'd be nice to see this spark a debate among party housing spokespeople just to see which parties are really determined to take on the NIMBYs. With growing numbers of renters and older people worrying about their children's life chances, they might find there are votes in it.