in Politics, Wandsworth

Affordable housing (and a bit of the budget) in Wandsworth

If you were expecting (though I suspect you hadn’t even thought about it) a post on the budget on this blog, you will be disappointed. There are far more qualified people than me who have analysed and commented on it at length.

For that matter there are far less qualified people than who have analysed and commented on it at length.

However, one of the proposals – taken straight from the Conservatives – of abolishing stamp duty for first time buyers for two years did catch my eye.

Although it’s taken from the Conservatives I’m not 100% sure I think it’s a great policy. For a start, how on earth is it to be policed? Is it really going to be cost-effective to check that all buyers have never owned a property anywhere for something that’s only saving the buyer a maximum of £2,500 (and costing the Exchequer the same), why not just extend it to all sales? Perhaps the bigger problem is how you stop sellers and estate agents simply adding a couple of thousand to the asking price, now that buyers don’t need to find stamp duty. Foxton’s, I’m mainly looking at you here.

However, it make me think about Wandsworth’s record of affordable housing. Which despite what you might think, is actually quite good.
For a start, council house sales has created a market of affordable properties. My first step on the housing ladder was an ex-council leasehold flat. It wasn’t the greatest first step, but the only way I was able to afford to get onto the property ladder. I doubt I could have ever started in any other inner London borough that hadn’t had a council sales policy.

The other factor is that Wandsworth is, amazingly, one of the country’s largest builder of new council homes. Surprising as it might seem Conservative Wandsworth is responsible for a significant proportion of the new council homes in the country through its Hidden Homes policy. Shelter’s recently published ‘league table’, placed Wandsworth in 16th place nationally, and 3rd in London, for provision of affordable housing. Admittedly, I’d quibble with some of the figures they used, but it does show that despite the opposition’s claims, nationally and locally, Wandsworth has a good record when it comes to offering and creating opportunity for those starting out.

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  1. My problem with the scheme is that even if it works as intended, it is not necessarily targeting help at those in need. A family who have bought a small flat already who need an extra room might be in much more need than a well to do young couple starting out on the property ladder.