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Housing policy dribbles


Or the good, the bad and the ugly from the Housing minister and the Communities and Local Government secretary.

Grant Shapps, housing minister has been setting out some plans, or perhaps aspirations. Mostly, these seem to involve encouraging people to buy houses. And encouraging mortgage lenders to lend more to people to buy houses. Via an unspecified “structural change” in how supply meets demand. Sounds like a plan, and one we haven’t seen before…

On rented accommodation, Mr Shapps confirmed that the national landlord register mooted under the last government will be scrapped. The rest of the Rugg review recommendations and being considered – more to come shortly, but apparently they plan to ‘penalise rogue landlords but not by penalising everybody’. It is a fair bet that the mumsnet for tenants is out the window.

Government support for shared ownership schemes has ‘run out of cash’ and will end.

Meanwhile, on the plus side, the consultation on the Housing Revenue Account system continues, with Mr Shapps describing the current position as ‘unfair’ and looking at devolved powers to councils with greater financial freedom on their housing funding. We shall see.

Eric Pickles at Trauma TowersAnd for the ugly, we turn to Eric Pickles at the DCLG and the emerging policy on gypsies and travellers. Not content with scrapping the Housing and Communities Agency funding that was in place for developing new sites and refurbishing old ones (and some really, really need refurbishment) and persisting with the Conservative plan to criminalise trespass, Eric Pickles has announced that he intends to “scrap new rules giving Gypsies and Travellers a “level playing field” in planning disputes with local authorities”. And then the regional planning schemes, which encouraged/required local authorities to find or build permanent sites are also to be scrapped. These are going to be difficult times for gypsies and travellers, with apparently not a peep from the Lib-Dems.

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts.


  1. Chris J

    We have our hard hats on and are dug in:
    “Incoming” (that’s when Mr Pickles makes a statement)
    One honourable exception. Lord Avebury (a Lib Dem peer and the architect of the Caravan Sites Act 1968) is seeking an urgent meeting with the Housing Minister, Mr Shapps, to discuss Gypsy and Traveller issues. Let’s hope this can put a brake on the downhill slide so far.

  2. The.Dark.One

    What happened to the pre election policy statement of the Conservatives that they would make trespassing with caravans a criminal offence, similar to what happens in the Republic of Ireland? I assume this has now been dropped?

    • NL

      Re-read the post. Pickles is keeping the proposal going…

  3. The.Dark.One

    Sorry, I did, but it just says that Eric Pickles has said. Well, when and what is the official source?

    • NL

      My source is the Guardian. You’d have to ask them ;-)

      Whether the idea actually makes it into concrete policy is another matter of course, but I was pointing out that there is no basis on which to assume it has been dropped as Pickles has been reported as saying he wants to do it.

  4. The.Dark.One

    OK, no problems. Sorry if the second post seemed curt, it was unintentional.

  5. Chris J

    Here is chapter and verse, folks:
    The Coalition ‘Programme for government’ states at p11: “In the longer term we will radically reform the planning system to give neighbourhoods far more ability to determine the shape of the places in which their inhabitants live, based on theprinciples set out in the Conservative Party publication Open Source Planning”
    The aforesaid publication contains all the mooted proposals about criminal trespass, retrospective planning being abolished etc So all is still up for grabs though Lord Avebury is seeking a meeting and the word on the ground is that CLG don’t really know which way they are going. The only part of Open Source Planning which has gone into the long grass (hopefully to remain there) is the proposed abolition of the HRA since that is now to go off to a Commission – though confusingly the commitment to a Bill of Rights still seems to be in place
    I have obtained some interesting House of Commons notes from someone called Mr Barclay ( three so far on: trespass; planning and Gypsy sites; Human Rights and planning). [Edit by NL – I’ve uploaded and linked to these notes].


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