‘New’ government plans – we really have heard it all before

You can’t make an old idea new just by saying it is.

David Cameron and George Osborne should have borne that in mind before they announced the ‘new’ policies with which they plan to relaunch (yet again) the Coalition government this week.

The plan appears to be threefold, with the government aiming to underwrite up to £10bn of new housing developments, and a further £40bn of private sector building projects which need finance – using money to be repaid on the government’s low interest rates, and it will also legislate to speed up planning conditions and encourage development on Green Belt land, if certain conditions are met.

New? Hardly.

The Labour Party has spent the last two years complaining bitterly at the government’s lack of interest in house building. It has been calling for construction of affordable homes, to be funded by a bank bonus tax.

Labour has also complained that major building projects have been falling backwards, due to a lack of investment.

It is also well-accepted that George Osborne’s plan to encourage building on Green Belt land is a renewal of a previous attempt.

But let’s go back a little further than recent history. I know I’ve already established that the new Tory plan is a modification of moves that Labour has been demanding for years, but there’s a better example that is decades old.

After World War Two, when the UK was in the deepest debt it had ever faced, the Labour government of the time decided that fiscal austerity was a move in entirely the wrong direction. Instead it invested in projects to rebuild the country and reinvigorate its industry. Barring the incursion into much-loved Green Belt land, this is exactly what Cameron and Osborne are planning now. But on a smaller scale.

So there it is. Not only are these ‘new’ policies unoriginal, they weren’t even Tory policies to start with (apart from the plan to kick us all in the teeth by relaxing planning regulations to prevent objections and build on the Green Belt – in other words, the nasty bits).

Somehow I doubt they’ll give credit where it’s due.

5 thoughts on “‘New’ government plans – we really have heard it all before

  1. Smiling Carcass

    Even Roosevelt knew this in the 1930’s depression; the way out of the depression was to build, thus creating jobs, wages for people to spend therefore boosting the economy.

    I don’t think this lot are interested in boosting the economy; or in jobs, or in homes. As you rightly state, after WWII, facing it’s worst debt ever, the British government embarked on a massive council house building project. Labour should drop the ‘affordable housing’ moniker and start talking about council housing.

    1. Mike Sivier

      I certainly don’t think this lot are interested in affordable homes. Labour use the ‘affordable’ label as a reminder that house prices have become hugely inflated and first-time buyers need to be able to buy a place they can actually afford – otherwise they start taking out loans in order to keep up the mortgage repayments, default on them – – and we all know where that path leads, if we’re good students of recent political history.
      It’s worth adding, also, that the British economy entered a cycle of growth that lasted around 25 years as a result of the decision by Clement Attlee’s monumental, evolutionary Labour government.

      1. Smiling Carcass

        To be honest, Mike I am against this push for home buying; build council homes and let those that want to buy do so in the private sector. There are more homeless and inadequately housed folk than rich wanting to buy- especially now.

        In fact, the basic requirement for shelter is so important, it should not be left to the whims and vagaries of the capitalists and bankers; all housing should be state owned. I know this is probably quite an extreme view, and is unlikely to see the light of day, but it is a belief I hold.

  2. Mike Sivier

    I’m in favour of a mix between public and privately-owned housing. You’re absolutely right about the basic requirement for shelter and so cheap-but-solid council accommodation is a great idea. Also, it’s a reliable, continuing source of income for cash-strapped councils. But people do want to move up the housing ladder if they can – get themselves somewhere bigger, brighter… perhaps simply different. That’s why I don’t oppose affordable housing for first-timers or the private housing sector in general. I don’t even oppose selling council houses to their occupants, although I would insist that the proceeds from such sales should ONLY be used to build more council houses, thus perpetuating and improving the housing stock (as building techniques improve). I differ greatly from the Conservatives of the 1980s in this respect – but rightly, I think. We can all see where THEIR policy put us.

    1. Smiling Carcass

      Although my view is somewhat extreme, I am a realist and agree with you, that sale of council housing, while not encouraged should fund more building; I would be reasonably happy with that compromise.

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