Kate Barker last week defended her report on housing supply in the UK in the face of fierce criticism.
Speaking at a Chartered Institute of Housing conference in Harrogate last Tuesday, Barker said the need for up to 23,000 extra affordable homes per year shows the scale of the task ahead.
On the issue of the environmental implications of building more houses, Barker argues the priority is to build new homes for the existing population. She describes those who say better usage of empty homes would negate the need for new builds as suffering from an “an enormous delusion”.
Barker says radical reform is necessary if the UK is to meet the future housing needs of its population.
Also speaking at the conference, Peter Williams, deputy directorgeneral of the Council of Mortgage Lenders, lamented the lack of media coverage of the Miles report, saying that the security of owner-occupiers has huge implications for housing.
With regard to Barker's recommendations, he suggests that the general election could have an impact on the level of new builds but questions the view that increasing housing supply brings down house prices.
And giving the keynote speech on the prospects for housing, Ed Balls, chief economic adviser at the Treasury, accused mainstream lenders of abandoning low-income households to loan sharks. Balls told delegates: “When these families get into financial difficulty it is often the unwillingness of mainstream banks to stay engaged that leaves them at the mercy of the unregulated sector.
But Mark Osland, director of Croydon-based Fidelius, says: “As usual, Labour party representatives talk of rights rather than responsibilities. The reason people get into financial difficulty is normally of their own making.”