Grant Shapps is MP for Welwyn Hatfield, and Chairman of the Conservative Party. He was Housing Minister from 2010 to 2012.
There is a simple choice on housing. In Conservative-led England, housing starts in England are at their highest for years:
But in Labour-run Wales they have fallen by 12 per cent in the last year alone:
Source: NHBC Annual New Home Statistics Review 2013
Winston Churchill once said:
“All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honour, duty, mercy, hope.”
He was right. And here is another great thing in a single word: home. Your home is your castle. We Conservatives get that. It is deeply ingrained in the British people: a desire to save up, buy a home for your family, work at improving it and – bit by bit – secure your financial future.
Our long-term economic plan is designed to boost home-ownership, something that rose steadily through the last century, but slumped under Labour. That is why David Cameron and I brought back Margaret Thatcher’s “Right to Buy”, and made the discounts much more generous. It is why George Osborne has brought in the new “Help to Buy” programme, to help people get a deposit together if they can’t depend on the Bank of Mum and Dad. If you have a mortgage, if you want to buy your Council house, if you dream of taking that first step on the housing ladder: Labour aren’t on your side. But the Conservatives are.
There is now a simple choice. Construction in Wales is being crushed by Labour’s red tape, a poor planning system, and delayed implementation of our “Help to Buy” scheme. It isn’t just me saying this. It is housebuilders saying this, including industry leaders like Persimmon Homes. They have warned that the reality of Labour is anti-business, and anti-jobs.
Experts have said that Labour are now adding at least £3,000 to the cost of each home built in Wales and in some cases even more. For families living under Welsh Labour rule, it is harder to buy a home, and harder to be financially secure. This means fewer Welsh parents can look forward to building a stable home for their children.
Even worse: Labour are hitting jobs and apprenticeships too, because their policies are making it harder for Welsh builders to find work. It is immoral that families should suffer, simply because they live west of the River Severn.
Tomorrow I will be visiting small businesses in Cardiff, Brecon, and the Welsh Valleys, to listen to their worries and concerns, and to reassure them that it is Conservatives who are battling to cut their jobs taxes, to help them grow and expand, and to get houses built locally too. It is a simple choice: Labour stagnation, or Conservative recovery.
Today, Ed Miliband makes speeches about house-building targets, just as Gordon Brown made boastful speeches about housing targets in 2007. But it’s all talk. It’s the same old Labour tune and we have heard it before. Here are the facts:
- British house-building collapsed under Labour, falling to the lowest levels since the 1920’s.
- Labour cut the number of social homes to rent.
- Labour crippled the “Right to Buy”, cutting discounts for first-time buyers.
- Labour failed to tackle empty homes, and the problem actually got worse on their watch.
- The only part of the country where Labour are still in power is in Wales. And this is the only part of the country where house-building is now collapsing, with new home registrations down 12 per cent on last year.
The surprising fact is that Labour still persist in demanding red-tape, higher rents and less choice. Ed Miliband’s current shopping list for policies includes a national register of landlords – potentially costing over £300 million – and old style rent controls. These policies have been tried before. And they’ve failed before. History tells us they are a shortcut to a bad deal: putting up rents, slashing choice, and forcing tenants to endure lower quality accommodation.
That’s the message we have to get out there on the doorstep, and over the airwaves: there is a simple choice on housing and it matters to the whole country. Look at the facts. With the Conservatives, housing starts in England are at their highest for years. But in Labour-run Wales they have fallen by 12 per cent. It couldn’t get starker than that.