Govt must move housing decision making powers to North to tackle affordable homes crisis, experts say

Senior figures in the housing sector have called for decision-making powers to be shifted from Westminster to the North to help tackle the mounting affordable homes crisis with the cost of a property now 10 times the average wage in the most expensive districts of Yorkshire.

Devolution must be rolled out across the North of England to help ensure co-ordinated policies are providing more affordable homes, experts have said.
Devolution must be rolled out across the North of England to help ensure co-ordinated policies are providing more affordable homes, experts have said.

Housing experts have claimed that the Government’s drive to devolve powers to the regions must be fully realised to ensure a targeted approach to tackling the need for millions more homes to help satiate demand.

While metro mayors have been introduced in South and West Yorkshire talks for devolution deals for other parts of the region are still in their early stages. Nigel Wilson, the chairman of Homes for the North, an alliance of 17 housing associations, told The Yorkshire Post it is vital that devolution is rolled out across the North of England to help ensure co-ordinated policies are providing more affordable homes.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

He said: “The Government needs to ensure there is a rebalancing of the economy to help its levelling up agenda, and this means ensuring that decisions need to be taken at a local level.

“We are aware that there are Conserative MPs in blue wall constituencies (traditional Labour strongholds which the Tories won in the last General Election) who are very keen to see long-term investment.

“There is expertise in the regions to know where resources can be best targeted, so it does make absolute sense to allow the decisions to be made on a far more local level for where new homes should be built.”

The housing market boom has been driven in part by the Government’s stamp duty holiday, which was introduced to provide a respite during the coronavirus pandemic and is fully in place until the end of this month before being phased out up to September.

A wave of interest in northern locations from house-hunters in the South keen to maximise their buying power with even greater profits made on properties in London and the South-East is also driving up prices.

Research published last month by the Rightmove property website revealed that the cost of a home in Yorkshire has risen by 10 per cent in the past year, and the intense demand in the market has led to properties selling, on average, in just 42 days.

Figures from the National Housing Federation, which represents housing associations that provide homes for six million people, have revealed the huge gulf between property prices and wages in the region.

The Harrogate district is the most expensive location in Yorkshire and the Humber to purchase a home, with the average cost of a property now £353,121, while the average wage is £31,814.

Shadow Housing Secretary Lucy Powell, the Labour MP for Manchester Central, called for more investment from the Government to counter the lack of affordable homes.

She said: “The stamp duty holiday has given a tax break to landlords and second homeowners, while pushing up house prices for first-time buyers.

“This has hit particularly hard in beautiful, rural spots like much of Yorkshire, where even those already on the housing ladder are struggling to find affordable homes to expand their families, or downsize in retirement.

“Rather than endlessly pumping the market, the Government should recognise homes as a right not a commodity, and invest in truly affordable, good quality housing across the country.”

The Government, however, maintained that it is investing billions of pounds to help address a critical lack of affordable housing.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said 542,400 new affordable homes have been delivered since 2010.

A spokeswoman added: “Our £12bn investment in affordable housing includes the new £11.5bn Affordable Homes Programme, which will provide up to 180,000 new homes across the country, should economic conditions allow.

“The new Affordable Homes Programme will deliver around 32,000 homes for social rent, more than double the current programme.”