The Gracious Speech: Housing

Inside Politics – The Policy Exchange newsletter (London), 11 November 2007

In the Queen stated in her speech that “legislation will be introduced on housing that will help create a fairer housing market and protect the most vulnerable. My government will continue to take forward a bill on planning introduced during the last session, which will make the planning system fairer and faster, with greater community participation.”

It sounds good, but this was actually in her speech of November 2003. Four years later, and she delivered an almost perfect copy: “Available and affordable housing is one of my Government’s main priorities. Legislation will be introduced to create a new Homes and Communities Agency that will deliver more social and affordable housing, and promote regeneration. There will also be a Bill to reform the planning system, providing for quicker and more transparent decision-making.”

In other words: The problems identified by the Government a long time ago are still with us today, and if anything the situation for people struggling to get a foot on the housing ladder has deteriorated in the meantime. Once again, the government has announced grand plans for faster planning and more affordable housing. But given its record, it is doubtful whether grand plans will finally become grand designs.

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