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Tory Former Housing Minister Has Joined Pro-Building Pressure Group Taking On NIMBYs

(Alamy)

4 min read

Conservative MP Brandon Lewis and Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh have joined housing campaign group PricedOut as Parliamentary Champions as they urge the Government to build more homes in order to fix the housing crisis.

Lewis, Conservative MP for Great Yarmouth, and a former housing minister, has consistently called for Government to build more homes and reform the planning system as a backbench MP. He said he was delighted to join PricedOut alongside McDonagh who he claimed had been an “excellent champion of Green Belt reform”.

“The housing crisis is the single biggest issue facing Britain – and the only way we're going to fix it is by actually putting spades and the ground and building more homes."

For decades Governments of all stripes have failed to build enough houses in the UK. Research from Centre for Cities has suggested Britain has a deficit of 4.3million homes.

Between January 2005 and October 2023, the average house price has increased from £150,663 to £284,950, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The median house price in London has continued to outstrip the average property price across the country. A home in the capital remains the most expensive of any region in the UK, with an average price of £516,000 in October 2023. In England, excluding London, the average age of a first time buyer has risen from 30.6 years old in 2005 to 33 in 2023, according to Statista, a data website. It also found over the same period that the average age of a first time buyer in the capital increased from 32 to 35.3.

Brandon Lewis
Former housing minister Brandon Lewis (picture above) said he was delighted to join pro-housing group PricedOut as a Parliamentary Champion

McDonagh, Labour MP for Mitcham and Morden, has for years called for more housing to be build on the Green Belt. She has previously said it has prevented developers and previous Governments from building enough affordable homes. 

The Labour MP said she was “thrilled” to join PricedOut and its growing team of Parliamentary Champions. “It's clear as day our housing system is broken and in desperate need of an overhaul,” she said.

“The average house price in the 1980s was 3 times the average salary – it's now 9 times. We are not building enough homes – and that needs to change."

PricedOut, a non-partisan campaign for affordable homes, was established in 2006 and has set to maintain pressure on Government to increase housing supply.

The group announced its first parliamentary supporters in Simon Clarke, Conservative MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, and Andrew Western, Labour MP for Stretford and Urmston, in 2023. Clarke wrote an opinion piece for the New Statesman in September when he joined the pro-housing group, and claimed it had "fought for all those affected by the housing crisis".

PricedOut in October launched its manifesto to fix Britain’s housing crisis. The event which was hosted in Westminster included a debate and keynote speeches from Lewis, Clarke and Western.

The manifesto's many recommendations included releasing green belt land close to train stations to build homes, reforming leasehold tenure, replacing stamp duty and council tax with fairer tax, and introducing a Builders’ Remedy which penalises local authorities for not building enough homes.

Freddie Poser, Director of PricedOut, told PoliticsHome the group was incredibly excited to double its number of parliamentary champions and welcome Lewis and McDonagh.

“PricedOut's growing cross-party momentum demonstrates that there is real will, both in and out of Parliament, to solve the housing crisis, and that the issue need not be a partisan fight," he said. 

“All sides can work together to find win-win solutions that deliver more homes where they are most needed. Together we can solve the housing crisis."

Polling for the free market think tank Adam Smith Institute (ASI), commissioned by JL Partners, found more than three-quarters of the population believe there is a housing crisis. Its results suggested 53 per cent of those polled supported building more homes in their local patch. This figure fell to 25 per cent if houses were to be built on the protected Green Belt. 

A levelling up department spokesperson said building is a “Government priority” and it was on track to build one million homes this Parliament. They said it had built over 2.5 million additional homes since April 2010 and last year alone we delivered over 234,000 homes which was higher than at any point between 1997 and 2010.

“Our ambitious long-term plan for housing will allow us to go even further, backed by £10 billion investment to boost supply and unlock more unloved brownfield sites whilst protecting our precious countryside,” they said.

“We are on the side of the builders not the blockers and are very clear councils must play their part to deliver the homes this country needs. In December the Housing Secretary published the updated National Planning Policy Framework and announced a major intervention in the planning system to boost performance and hold poorly performing council planning departments to account, whose delays have held up house building in their area.”

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