This week saw the Housing and Planning Bill receive its Royal Assent after ping ponging between the Lords and Commons. It’s the first Bill to be passed using the English votes for English laws system.
Controversial policies such as discounted ‘Starter Homes’ for first-time buyers and larger rents for higher-earning council tenants under ‘pay-to-stay’ terms, will now pass into law.
The ‘ping-ping’ only came to an end when Lord Kerslake dropped his amendment to give councils funding to replace affordable homes sold off to fund the extension of the Right to Buy discount to housing association tenants. Shadow housing minister Teresa Pearce warned that not including this amendment could sound the death knell for social housing.
Through every twist and turn of the Bill’s journey, Peers have been critical. They warned that the sums don’t add up on the Government’s flagship housing reforms, prompting David Cameron to tell them to stop blocking reforms and the delivery of 200,000 Starter Homes. Whilst housing associations claim the policy environment is now polarised and Councils are frustrated that decisions are being forced upon them.
After recent Government U-turns on academies and tax credits, party whips had been keen to ensure that a manifesto commitment actually got through. Also watching, of course, was Field’s new hire, Alex Morton, fresh from 10 Downing Street, and the No.10 DCLG policy advisor associated with driving the Housing and Planning Bill.
Who would think ping pong was so interesting? But there’s more to come. Rumour has it that there is a second Housing Bill being drafted in DCLG at this very moment and it could appear in the Queen’s Speech as early as next week. Watch this space….