Parliamentary sketch – Homes for all
Meeting the often desperate housing needs of local families is not something to be put aside at times of public spending austerity. Indeed, there are few better ways of stimulating an economic recovery than through public investment in housing.
Last year I voted against the Government’s much criticised so-called “bedroom tax” (or as it prefers to call it, “spare room subsidy”). Frankly there’s something not right about Ministers who often live in large houses with many spare rooms telling hard working families on low wages that they must uproot themselves from settled homes, schools, family and social networks and even jobs, to search for a possibly non-existent smaller home or face a penalty.
This week I told Ministers that they could do more to meet housing need in Cornwall and Scilly. I was privileged to visit two excellent housing schemes for locals last week in Carbis Bay and St Ives which will together provide over 60 rented and shared ownership homes for local families. But this is just scratching the surface of local need.
If the Chancellor wants to offer a mortgage guarantee to help new home owners it’s no good giving it to those who can buy £1/2 million houses, as he suggested.
In Cornwall we have the biggest gap between house prices and earnings of anywhere in the country, average house prices are about 15 times higher than average wages!
And simply turning Cornwall into a developers’ paradise is not the answer either. We’re not NIMBYs. Cornwall’s housing stock has more than doubled in the last forty years and yet the housing problems of locals have got much worse. What we need is carefully targeted developments which meet need rather than developers’ greed and to fuel the seemingly unquenchable desire for second or holiday investment home.
So that’s why I’ve asked Ministers to convert their mortgage guarantee for new homes to support families who want to buy and also sell shared ownership homes. It’s only by creating a viable and workable new lower rung on the housing ladder that we’ll get to the root of local housing problems and help kick start economic regeneration.
Andrew George MP
MP for the West Cornwall &
Isles of Scilly constituency of St Ives
26th March 2013