There is a big new Policy Exchange report, Making Housing Affordable, out today. For me, there were three main points that stood out about it and one big issue that it raised. Firstly, the report’s argument is that reforms in housing can both improve the current situation in housing and save taxpayers a whopping £20 billion a year – with savings kicking in from day one. That is a pretty huge sum.
The second thing was the potential political gain of one of the key recommendations - to allow every working council tenant to purchase their home at their existing rent under a new revamped Right to Buy. This could create swathes of Conservative voters in urban working class areas – the very areas that they often failed to capture last time.
The third point that stood out is the report’s argument that a better planning system in the UK would allow us to built more and better quality homes which in turn should stabilise house prices. This would both increase home ownership and cut pressures on government spending - for example, if more people could buy their home this cuts social housing waiting lists, which under Labour almost doubled.
Now, I am not saying that the report’s analysis or recommendations are necessarily correct. But the big issue that occurred to me was that as the government makes unprecedented cuts in spending then it must continue to be serious about looking beyond Whitehall for ideas on how to save money. As Ministers sharpen the axe then they could do worse than study reports like this.