A housing body says that, rather than presiding over a worsening housing crisis as many suggest, David Cameron has actually left a proud legacy of new homes being built.
Natalie Elphicke, chief executive of The Housing & Finance Institute, says the record of Cameron and sacked Chancellor George Osborne has been “the strongest of any government for a generation.”
“For two politicians perceived to be masters of spin and presentation, they failed to sell their ground-breaking housing achievements while in government. But they really did preside over record-breaking house building, a reformed planning policy and a package of reforms that leave our housing industry in a much stronger position than when they took office six years ago” says Elphicke.
She says that as Chancellor, Osborne put housing at the heart of Britain’s recovery and growth strategy, committing over £38 billion of public money into the sector - “a scale of public finance housing support that has not seen since the post war era.”
She continues: “There has been wholesale reform of planning through the introduction of the National Planning Policy Framework. Action has been taken on empty homes, on better utilisation of existing social housing stock and on keeping Britain building.”
The HFI says the Help to Buy scheme was the politicians’ biggest success.
It claims that while many “misanalysed” Help To Buy as a demand side boost, the original scheme was a supply side boost to address the immediate challenge that volume house builders faced, which was that new buyers did not have the higher deposits necessary to secure a mortgage after the credit crunch.
“These root and branch reforms of housing are working. Planning permissions are at an eight year high with over 475,000 in stock at the beginning of 2016. Over 200,000 additional homes have been added to the council tax base in the year to March 2016. There are fewer empty homes than at any time since records began” she insists.
The HFI says Cameron and Osborne can also be proud of their record on social housing. They oversaw the only net increase in the number of households in social housing of any of the last five governments.
The last two full reported years to 2015 saw the highest numbers of households in social housing for more than a decade.
More than 750,000 homes have been built during their term of office already, with final figures to be released in the coming months. House building starts are more than 100 per cent above the low point of March 2009.
The HFI describes itself as a body that works with industry and public sector partners to increase housing supply, encourage councils and businesses to work together to build more homes and promote new ways of financing and delivering new homes.