Ms Truss believes there has been a lack of ambition on housing. She wants to replace centralised targets with tax and regulatory incentives for firms to build new homes, which she considers far more likely to encourage companies to act.
“I want to abolish the top-down Whitehall-inspired Stalinist housing targets; I think that’s the wrong way to generate economic growth,” she says. “The best way to generate economic growth is bottom up by creating those incentives for investment through the tax system, simplifying regulations.”
Ms Truss wants to amend Mr Johnson’s Levelling Up Bill to legislate for new low-tax “investment and building zones”. The centralised targets are a “Labour approach”, she says. “It’s not Conservative.”
A few facts
- National targets for Building were equally pursued by labour and conservative governments
- The state no longer sets by LPA targets, it rather sets a method for local planning authorities to calculate need
- The Government that did set national targets – applied through regional planning conferences – was Margret Thatcher’s (and specifically Nicholas Ridly)
- The Levelling Up Bill has nothing to do with housing targets or need- these matters are set in national planning policy
- There are already ‘Opportunity Zones’ on statute book, enterprise Zones, SPZs and LDOs. The problem is Treasury Research showed Thacther style Enterprise Zones didn’t work as they simply caused firms to move and a loss of tax revenue – this is accepted by everybody that has studied the issue
- The policy on targets has already been Tried by Eric Pickles in 2010 – it spectacularly failed leading to local plans radically reducing housebuilding – within a year houses allocated in local plans dropped by 110,000, it helped cause the worst housebuilding slump since 1924 and popped the housing bubble to the extent it helped fuel a global financial crisis, and was reversed in 2017 following an expert review of what went wrong.
- Without any discipline of how much to put in local plans how will ‘supply side reform’ work? Abolishing local plans and the Green Belt maybe – that will be popular in the shires.
- Similarly a proposal by Lord Young in the 1986 Deregulation Bill to abolish structure plans (and hence targets) was so unpopular in the shires it was swiftly dropped.
Of course all of this was well before Truss entered parliament – has she done any research or background reading at all on this issue or is she driven by pure ideological bile rewriting history (Stalin styly) along the way?