Parliamentary sketch – 20th November 2014
My most recent round of casework surgeries (in Helston, Penzance, St Keverne, Zennor and Pendeen) generated large, wide ranging and many distressing cases.
The one issue which perpetually comes top of the list of concerns is the consequences of not having enough decent and genuinely affordable homes for local families.
Before I was elected as MP one of my chief jobs was to work to improve the housing prospects of locals.
The problems local families face are basically the same in the last 30-40 years. It’s just that the problems have got worse.
What has happened over that time?
- Cornwall’s housing stock has more than doubled. Yet the housing problems of locals has got worse.
- The proportion of the stock which are “council houses” has diminished rapidly to less than 10%.
- Private sector rents have become extortionate and the tenure precarious.
- Second/holiday home ownership has increased – many more local homes are sold to second home buyers than first time buyers.
So what can we do? We can’t carry on as we are.
For over 40 years Cornwall has followed the failed policies imposed on us from Central Government – believing that turning the place into a developers’ paradise would produce more housing and that the market would provide homes for locals.
It doesn’t work like that. Cornwall is one of the most outstanding examples of how that two dimensional thinking has failed.
So what do we need? New and radical policies:
- Taxing the windfall profits of those who speculate on land values; which inflate the cost of building new homes and make affordable housing unaffordable.
- Penal taxes and compulsory purchase where land already allocated for housing remains unused, forcing developments into areas which would create problems.
- A Government sponsored affordable homes investment Bank (perhaps with community bonds and supported by local authority pension funds) to invest in affordable housing schemes.
- Heavier taxes and a cap on second homes.
Whilst political parties engage in a macho bidding war, claiming that they would build more houses than the others, they need to be reminded that larger housing numbers is a ‘means to an end’, not an end in itself.
Solving the housing crisis and the lack of affordable homes for local families is what it’s about. The mega house builders have been given their chance over the decades and they’ve failed. Now it’s the time for communities to work with housing associations and others to meet our desperate need for decent and genuinely affordable homes for locals.
You can contact Andrew George by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. His constituency office can be contacted at Trewella, 18 Mennaye Road, Penzance, Cornwall, TR18 4NG. Telephone: 01736 360020.
Andrew George MP
Kernow a’n West ha Syllan
West Cornwall and the Scillies
Constituency of St Ives
Tel: 01736 360020
Fax: 01736 332866
18th November 2014