Lunchtime news July 24

Click on this link for a short summary of the Green Paper launched yesterday. The full document and supporting papers can be downlodaded here.

A full transcript of Yvette Cooper’s speech and the responses from the opposition parties and individual MPs can be downloaded here.

Jack Dromey of union Unite said: “Gordon Brown has listened to the millions struggling to buy or rent a home. This is a recognition of the key strategic role of councils as a builder and provider of affordable homes for rent.”

But Jill Craig, of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, said housebuilding targets would be futile without changes to the planning system to release land.

And Tory Shadow Housing Minister Grant Shapps said: “The PM’s higher taxes have made it harder to get on the housing ladder. First time buyers pay an average of £1,500 in stamp duty, in 1997 it was nothing.”

The National Housing Federation claimed the government had got its maths wrong: “They need to invest £11.6bn, not the £8bn proposed in the green paper,” said David Orr, the federation’s chief executive. Attempting to squeeze 70,000 homes out of £8bn “could bankrupt the housing association sector within five years”, as it would not be able to support the borrowing needed to build them.

Roof editorial board member, Steve Wilcox warned that the focus on first time buyers is overlooking the problem of older single person households who cannot afford to move into supported housing as they age. “There needs to be more thought about shared ownership for older households, not just for first-time buyers,” said Wilcox in the FT.

The Local Government Association said moves to allow local authorities to build council houses again “would represent an historic break with the past”. But it, too, queried whether the £8bn investment in affordable housing was sufficient to hit the homes target.

But the most disapproval to the Green Paper, perhaps not unsurprisingly given the weather, is against the decision to build new houses on flood plains. Again the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors commented saying that housebuilding targets would prove futile unless the infrastructure to support them was put in place, adding a warning that any use of flood plains would bring a big bill for flood defences.

The Green Party’s Darren Johnson said: “Our dash for homes could create streets of flood victims in the future.” And the Association of British Insurers warned planners to think carefully about the siting of developments.

Fortunately we had the Daily Mail to hand to keep our eyes on the true issues in the housing crisis, and it hasn’t anything to do with weather!