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Is Boris letting down the poor? Agency in rare criticism of government

High end agents usually keep their powder dry when it comes to party politics, to avoid upsetting customers.

However Knight Frank has made an overt criticism of the government which it’s accused of ‘letting down’ poor people in parts of the north of England.

The agency says the so-called Red Wall constituencies - “arguably some of the poorest in the UK” it says - are being let down by the government’s rules on funding new homes.


Knight Frank explains that an 80:20 rule affordability test is applied by the government’s Homes England body to determine how funding is spent, and is currently set at a median affordability ratio of 8.8x. 

This means the areas of the country where average house prices are more than 8.8x the average household income will receive an 80 per cent share of the government’s allocated funding to help unlock and deliver housing.

The rule was initiated by the former Chancellor Philip Hammond under Theresa May’s government and was intended to provide funding to the country’s most affluent and unaffordable areas – where it was thought additional housing demand was likely to be most acute.

But Knight Frank says its analysis shows that all of the Red Wall constituencies in the Midlands, Yorkshire and the North of England - which swung from Labour to Conservative at the 20-9 election- fail the test and therefore receive no more than 20 per cent of gap funding.

“Due to the 80:20 rule, places up and down the country are being refused Homes England funding – and the reality is that these are the areas that need the investment the most. Indeed, 33.5m people - 57 per cent of the country – live in areas that fail the affordability test” explains Knight Frank partner Charles Dugdale.

He adds: “The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government might be focussed on housing, but HM Treasury holds the purse strings. Cross-departmental policymaking is challenging and it should be no surprise that important issues fall between the cracks. The 80:20 rule should be reviewed if the government is serious about its levelling-up agenda.”


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