The problem is that the sale of council houses was not underpinned by investment in a new generation of high-quality social housing – hence today’s chronic shortage of affordable homes.
It’s all the more reason, on the back of expert work by Homes for the North, that affordable and eco-friendly housing is one of the catalysts for the Government’s so-called agenda of ‘levelling up’.
After all, these two words – ‘levelling up’ – will dominate the Tory conference where Ministers can be judged by the number of references, however opaque, that they make to the policy.
But they’re just that – words – and this is borne out by Homes for the North research revealing that 58 per cent of respondents to focus groups either had not heard of levelling up or did not know what it meant.
And that, frankly, is a damning indictment of Boris Johnson’s lack of progress when Brexit, Covid and energy efficiency, the three defining issues of this decade, all increase the need for a comprehensive and co-ordinated set of policies – led by both the private and public sectors – to tackle regional inequalities that now rank amongst the most entrenched in Europe.
Yet, while Michael Gove, the new Levelling Up Secretary, has likened his new role to a moral mission, he has said little in the past 16 days to indicate that there will be a joined-up set of policy objectives, from housing and home insulation to education, skills and transport, which Ministers can be judged against in Parliament and, in time, at the ballot box.
Mr Gove, it’s time to level with us before public cynicism and suspicion hinders any attempt to put in place firmer policy foundations for a fairer future for all.
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