London housebuilding falls by a fifth under Sadiq Khan

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The number of housing starts in Britain’s capital has fallen by 20 per cent under London Mayor Sadiq Khan, government figures suggest.

The Labour politician had a column in the Guardian newspaper published in October under the headline ‘We’re starting to fix London’s housing crisis,’ yet stats from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) show that just 17,130 new homes were started in the 2016/17 financial year – Sadiq Khan’s first as London Mayor. This compares with the 21,310 that were built in 2015/16 in Boris Johnson’s last year as mayor, a fall of 20 per cent.

The figures are highlighted in a new report by the Centre for Policy Studies, fronted by Tory MP Chris Philp, which argues many Labour-controlled local authorities are delaying much-needed homes because of disputes between council’s and developers over the extent of affordable housing.

“While it is commendable to seek more affordable housing, this is not sensible if it comes at the cost of preventing development entirely,” the Croydon MP states.

Under Khan’s leadership, the report says up to 50 per cent of all new-build stock in London is now sold to overseas buyers which is “preventing young Britons from getting on to the housing ladder.” Mr Philp highlights a number of examples including Baltimore Wharf, in London’s Docklands, where 87 per cent of 2,999 apartments were sold abroad and another 100 flats in Edgware where 75 per cent were sold off plan in the Far-East.

He says foreign nationals from places like China, Hong Kong, Singapore, India, Malaysia and the Gulf States are buying off-plan up to two years before a development completes, long before UK-based first-time buyers even have chance to look at a particular scheme.

The Conservative-leaning think-tank proposes introducing a new system where non-UK taxpayers would be barred from buying more than 50 per cent of houses or flats on developments of 20 units or more, in order to free up additional properties for Brits.

Mr Philp said: “At this point, some people may say that this is just how the market works. They might say that it is not the Government’s job to interfere, for example by discriminating between foreign and British buyers, or indeed between young owner-occupiers and elderly second home owners. But these objections do not hold water.

“There is, in fact, a long list of other countries – almost all dynamic free market economies – that have already taken action to restrict foreign purchases of property, or at least to tilt the market towards domestic buyers. These include countries such as Australia, Singapore, Switzerland, Denmark and New Zealand. This paper argues that Britain should follow suit, by reserving a proportion of new build schemes for UK residents – defined as those who pay taxes here, rather than those of UK nationality.”

The study, published yesterday, admits that a change in policy like this could lead to accusations that Britain is sending a negative message to the world, and that it isn’t ‘open for business’.

“Making sure our own citizens can own their own home is reasonable, and there is no reason why this will deter investment or trade more generally,” it adds.

“The restriction applies to non-residents so overseas citizens who live and work here could still buy. No one would accuse Switzerland, Australia and Singapore of being “not open for business” and their restrictions are similar to those proposed here.”

To read the full report, please visit this page.

Shy Society.
Standing up for those without a voice in Britain

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