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Sajid Javid to unveil new affordable housing plan

Thursday 20 July 2017

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid is preparing to unveil a striking new rule that will require councils to take local affordability into account.

The plan calls for local authorities to consider the affordability of new homes, and calculate the salary-to-house price ratio in order to assess how easy it is for young workers to get on the housing ladder in their local area.

It has been reported that the communities secretary will legally require councils whose affordability ratios are too high to authorise plans for hundreds or even thousands more homes to increase supply and lower prices.

This comes as the estimated house in Britain costs nearly eight times the average salary – an all-time record – and in some areas of the south east, the figure rockets to above 12 times the average wage.

MP for North East Somerset Jacob Rees-Mogg said he believes the move would receive support, both from backbench MPs and councils, claiming 'nimbyism' was increasingly being rejected as people realised their own children could not afford homes.

"Inevitably there will be house-building in the country because that is where the land is, but ideally it would not happen in what you might call the ‘real’ green belt", he said.

"People in my position will be sensible about accepting that we are not going to be able to preserve every blade of grass, and therefore being nimbyistic about it. Pure obstructionism will not be popular with the public."

Shadow City minister Jonathan Reynolds has also backed the plans, saying: "Anything that gets more houses built has to be welcomed. A conversation about the green belt is essential… but alongside that, the government also needs to invest in infrastructure, because otherwise it’s just another burden on [local councils]".

But the move hasn't been welcomed by everyone. There are fears of a backlash in solid Tory areas, causing home owners to panic about their own properties losing value.

Christchurch MP Chris Chope said it was "a mad policy" that would "go down like a lead balloon in my constituency".

Mr Javid told the Local Government Association conference last month: "Where housing is particularly unaffordable, local leaders need to take a long, hard, honest look to see if they are planning for the right number of homes".