A Yorkshire online estate agent has urged the Chancellor not to forget the North when it comes to the finer detail of where to invest the £7bn promised for housing in the Autumn Statement.
Philip Hammond outlined new Government policy on Wednesday aimed at making it easier for first-time buyers to get on the housing ladder, including pledging more than £2bn to fund the construction of homes in parts of the UK where they’re desperately needed and another £1.4bn to pay for 40,000 more affordable homes.
The Government will also invest in schemes such as Right To Buy, Rent To Buy and Shared Ownership to help those with aspirations to own their own homes.
But Esaleuk.com MD David Rook, pictured, is concerned, although the new initiatives may have grabbed the headlines, the devil could be in the detail and much of the promised investment could be in London, where prices are higher than any other part of the UK.
He said: “First of all, although it may sound an impressive number, 40,000 affordable homes isn’t many in a national context. Also we’ve yet to see the definition of “affordable”; neither do we know yet where these new homes will be built.
“We’re a Yorkshire-based firm so, as you might expect, we’d very much like to see the Government back-up its rhetoric about a Northern Powerhouse with some action. If we’re going to see significant investment north of Watford, then people will need homes to live in so, hopefully, a decent slice of that money to boost construction will be coming our way.”
But, Mr Rook added, in many cases, the areas feeling the housing crisis worst are small rural communities. Many villages have fast become enclaves for the over-50s as homes in the countryside have been snapped up as holiday cottages or have become so expensive they’re well outside the price bracket for the average rural worker.
He added: “Yes, there are pockets of London – and other big cities too – where “brown field” development could help ease the logjam and get Britain back on track when it comes to home ownership. But let’s hope rural communities get their fair share too or we’ll likely see a continued decline in a quintessentially British way of life.”
Housing minister Gavin Barwell has indicated the next step will be a White Paper which will outline in more detail Government policies which will “get the housing market working for everyone”.
“The Autumn Statement ensures we are taking steps to deliver this by building more of the right homes, in the right places. We will shortly be setting out further details to increase housing supply and tackle rising housing costs in our Housing White Paper,” he said.