A full house of policy issues

AS one controversy over spending cuts passes, so another immediately rears its ugly head.

Barely has the Government had chance to draw breath following the storm over its higher education policy, which culminated in Thursday's fraught House of Commons vote on tuition fees and shocking scenes of violence in London, that a new row ignites over cuts to housing budgets.

Yorkshire will be hit hard, with hundreds of millions of pounds earmarked for regeneration and affordable housing schemes lost as the Chancellor tightens spending like never before.

To some, affordable housing may not sound like the most glamorous of causes – but in truth there are few areas where spending cuts will be felt as keenly.

It was only two months ago that this newspaper published startling figures from the Office of National Statistics revealing Yorkshire is currently experiencing a population boom that has not been seen in a generation.

Rises in birth rates and immigration, coupled with elderly people's increasing longevity, are predicted to push this region's population beyond six million for the first time over the next two decades.

Even the most inept of planners can see that extra homes will be required.

The picture becomes more disturbing as the gap between wages and house prices continues to grow into a gaping chasm which many will simply never bridge. In short, affordable housing is needed like never before.

The crisis, indeed, is already upon us – earlier this year industry experts suggested Yorkshire is already short of some 15,000 affordable homes. That's 15,000 families waiting desperately for somewhere to live.

Furthermore the construction industry, in free-fall since the economic crash with landmark projects abandoned and thousands of people out of work, is crying out for publicly-led regeneration schemes to help it recover its equilibrium.

It is accepted on every side that this Government faced an unenviable task in taking on the challenge of deciding where the axe must fall.

There have been few easy choices. But, with the country gripped by a housing crisis that is growing worse with every passing day, Ministers must think again on this issue.

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