Grant Shapps, housing minister between 2010 and 2012, has said the measures in the current government’s White Paper are not bold enough to solve the UK housing shortage.
Speaking on the BBC’s Daily Politics programme Shapps - MP for Welwyn Garden City and now a back-bencher having not been given a government position by Theresa May - said: “Housing ministers over the years have come out with these documents or bills, and the truth is none of them will make that much difference, and I don’t suppose this will make that much difference. The reason is this: unless you build literally two or three million more homes then you’re not going to solve the problem.”
Shapps has called for a much more radical solution instead of what he has dismissed as “this tinkering” of the kind that successive governments have tried.
“If we’re ever genuinely going to solve this problem [we should] actually build in parts of the country that are much, much less dense ... You need to build 10 or 15 brand new New Towns of 100,000 population each, maybe more” he said.
Shapps claimed that over decades politicians from all major parties have failed to have the foresight to do what is required to solve the housing shortage.
“What you’ve got to do is go out and build new Garden Cities - but not on the scale we had the other week when there was the announcement of 2,000 or 3,000 homes here and there, but 100,000 homes in new developments that are in places where there isn’t housing at all” he told the programme.
Shapps claimed that if a government brought back into use every empty residential property in the country that might generate up to 200,000 homes; if it built on every reasonable area of public land freed by councils and public bodies, that might be another 100,000 to 200,000 homes.
“What we actually need to solve [the crisis] and bring down house prices is two to three million new homes. All these [smaller] measures are welcome, but there’s a fundamental economics problem here ... you have to solve the supply and demand issue.”
Many estate agents have sharply criticised the White Paper.