Really interesting and important new report today from Alex Morton, our housing guru at @CPSThinkTank. A quick thread/summary (1/?)…
We want and need to build more houses. Cameron-era planning reforms focused on land supply, by pushing for more planning permissions to be granted. But this only translated partially/weakly into more houses being built.
It's often claimed that land banking by the big housebuilders is the culprit. And as Alex shows, they have certainly built up v significant reserves - the biggest housebuilders now have plots equivalent to the five-year land supply for England.
But the core problem isn't 'land banking', but build out speed (as the Letwin Review identified). It's not that they're sitting on these sites while land values rise. It's that they're only bringing them into the system slowly.
One of the key themes of housing reform has been to try to get more SMEs involved and smaller sites - not least because that means houses get built more quickly, and you get a bigger variety of house (which means more people want to buy them).
But even as supply has risen over the past decade, the number of sites has actually shrunk: we're building more houses on fewer sites, which means they get built (and sold) more slowly.
Alex's suggestion is simple but radical: we effectively turn planning permissions into contracts to build. Rather than saying 'you can build something on this at some point', we say 'you have to build X houses a year over the next Y years'.
If builders fall short of promised delivery targets, plots on the site would be sold off to SMEs who would make up the deficiency. (And SMEs would also be prioritised in the disposal of public sector land.)
This means that rather than focusing on land supply, councils could focus on housing delivery - ie whether enough houses are actually being built.
It's a really interesting and challenging report, challenging many of our central assumptions about the housing industry. Alex has summarised this thesis on @ConHome here…
Or you can read the report on the @CPSThinkTank website. (And now, back to my holidays...)…

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More from @rcolvile

4 Apr
Have written today about the EU's pandemic screw-ups, and the alarming picture they paint (1/?)…
The most obvious thing to say (as I do in the column) is that Britain has no high ground on this - stones, glass houses, etc. But the vaccine debacle fits with a worryingly familiar pattern.
As one Brussels veteran says, it's the same pattern as the migrant crisis. Bad thing happens -> cries that the only way to solve it is more Europe -> Commission takes over -> everyone feels virtuous about the European model -> Commission fucks it up -> rats in a sack time
Read 7 tweets
3 Apr
V g from @lukemcgee on how Putin is exploiting the EU’s vaccine failure…
Aside from the fact that it’s Vlad Putin, the fact that Europe with its world-class pharma industry should be asking a second-rater like Russia for help shows just how badly they’ve screwed this up
In fact, just to stress this, the EU was responsible for approx 60% of global pharma exports in 2018. If anywhere should have got this done...…
Read 4 tweets
31 Mar
The ethnic disparity report is now online here, and well worth looking at (if you have a spare few hours). A few quick thoughts (1/?)…
Whatever you think of the conclusions, this is clearly a serious piece of work. They have clearly sifted through a mountain of evidence and the final report is pretty darn hefty.
We're used to reports like this saying 'X is a disgrace and we will fix it' or 'this is how we will improve things'. But the central message of this one is basically 'it's a bit more complicated than that' - which obviously makes it harder to land.
Read 10 tweets
17 Mar
This Uber announcement is fascinating - a big test of how well Britain's new 'worker' status (which AFAIK is still unique) plays out, in which you're not a pure contractor, but not employed either 1/?…
As I pointed out in a thread just the other day, one of the really weird things about the debate on the gig economy is that it ignores the fact that most people in it are there by choice (and that actually full-time work has been going up not down...)
See for example this academic study of Uber's own drivers - which involved Uber's co-operation, but was done by some pretty respectable academics -…
Read 8 tweets
15 Mar
Quick thread on why I can't understand EU decisions on Oxford/AZ, based on this illuminating contribution from @olivernmoody
Oliver cites German concerns about cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) - apparently 7 cases in the 1.6 million people jabbed (vs background rate of 3-4/year, or possibly 15/year by another method)
The IFR of Covid in developed countries is roughly 1% (as of August, may have changed since). Germany has approx 9,000 infections per day.
Read 7 tweets
15 Mar
This is a good piece by @jessicaelgot on how Covid ripped through Whitehall. But the quote at the end from @JonAshworth has induced a minor paroxysm of nerd-rage. Brief thread follows…
Whether or not you think sick pay rules affected the spread of Covid, the claim at the end that we've 'built an economy characterised by zero hours contracts, temporary work' is just not true. In fact, it's complete and utter bollocks, no matter how many times Labour say it.
Here are the @ONS figures for employment growth over the last five years. Until Covid hits, most jobs created are very clearly full time rather than part time.
Read 11 tweets

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