WATCH Sajid Javid: Government could borrow to solve the housing crisis
Sajid Javid has said the Government would consider taking on more debt to solve the UK’s housing crisis.
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show today, the Communities Secretary marked a significant shift in government policy when he indicated more borrowing could be on the cards to fund investment in housebuilding.
He said: “What I want to do is makes sure we’re using everything I have available to deal with the housing crisis.
"Where that means, for example, we can sensibly borrow more to invest in the infrastructure that leads to more housing, take advantage of some of the record low interest rates that we have, I think we should absolutely be considering that...
“We have to continue to be bold in this area – we set out some measures during the conference but there is a lot more to do.
"This is one of the biggest barriers to social progress in this country.”
He added that between 275,000 and 300,000 new homes, of a range of tenures, needed to be built every year in order to address the country’s housing issues.
When asked if the Chancellor supported his stance, he said: “Let’s wait and see what happens in the Budget.”
There has been speculation in recent days that Philip Hammond is preparing to announce sweeping changes to the planning system in next month’s Budget.
Elsewhere Mr Javid failed to commit the Government to offer funding for retrofitting sprinklers in the wake of the devastating Grenfell Tower fire.
Urgent calls to implement new fire safety measures came after the blaze ripped through the west London high-rise in June this year, killing at least 80 people.
But when asked if cash would be available to help councils retrofit sprinkler systems, Mr Javid said: “The professional assessment up until now has been that all new buildings, all new tower blocks since 2017 are required to have sprinklers.
“There is currently no legal requirement [to retrofit sprinkler systems] and I think the correct response after this terrible tragedy was to review that law and many other fire safety measures.”
He added that he would review the current arrangements based on the recommendations of a report by Dame Judith Hackitt, which will look at building regulations and fire safety.