Michael Heseltine: Theresa May is too tied up with Brexit to fix Britain's housing crisis

Posted On: 
8th October 2017

Tory grandee Michael Heseltine has called on Theresa May to appoint a new ‘housing supremo’ to tackle Britain’s housing crisis. 

Theresa May has promised a £2bn injection of public funds to pay for an extra 25,000 homes for social rent
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Lord Heseltine said the Prime Minister would not be able to deliver on her promise to build more affordable homes as she was too "absorbed in Brexit".

In her keynote speech at the Conservative conference last week, Mrs May promised a £2bn injection of public funds to pay for an extra 25,000 homes for social rent by 2021.

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She described reinvigorating the country’s neglected social housing sector as her “mission”.

But the plans came under fire after it emerged that the cash would provide only 5,000 extra homes a year.

Speaking on Radio 4’s World This Weekend, Mr Heseltine said: “Mrs May is going to be completely absorbed in Brexit.

“She is already taking more and more control of that negotiation and what she now has to do, in my view, is to appoint a housing supremo.”

The former deputy prime minister blamed Whitehall departments for not working together to drive through housing policy, and called for the creation of the new post to deliver the Prime Minister’s pledge.  

He said: “I think it is a very serious challenge… and the problem that she faces is that responsibility for the housing situation is now very widely spread…

“What we need now is one identifiable, very tough and very determined person in charge of the whole housing delivery pattern.”

The Tory grandee also admitted that the current shortfall in social housing was due to lack of investment that began under the Conservatives.

Plans to reinvest money from Margaret Thatcher’s Right to Buy policy into building new council houses had simply “evaporated”, he said.  

It comes after Chancellor Philip Hammond faced fresh calls to lift the housing benefit freeze amid warnings of a looming crisis for renters.