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New housing minister talks tough on new builds

New housing minister talks tough on new builds

The new housing minister has outlined his plans for the role, aiming to work with a range of stakeholders to hit building targets.

Gavin Barwell, MP for Croydon Central, was appointed as minister for housing, planning and London at the weekend by the new prime minister Theresa May.

He stated every MP knows housing is one of the most common issues they deal with in constituency surgeries.

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“Too many people are having to live in overcrowded or even unsafe conditions. Too many people don’t have a permanent place to call home. Too many people are having to pay too much of their monthly earnings on their housing costs,” he commented.

He also cited the prime minister’s acceptance speech last week, where she said too many people who want the independence of owning their own home currently can’t afford to do so.

Mr Barwell said he looked forward to working with councils, housing associations, developers, investors and local communities to make sure the government can build with the mix of tenures that people want.

“In addition to my national responsibilities for housing and the planning system, I look forward to working with [London mayor] Sadiq Khan and the leaders of London councils to ensure the continued success of our wonderful, diverse capital - and to make sure that all Londoners share in that success,” he added.

This morning, the government revealed average UK house prices have increased by 8.1 per cent in the year to May, with a monthly increase of 1.1 per cent from April.

The average price was £211,230 in May; £16,000 more than last year, while London still had the highest average house price at £472,000 and the most expensive average - £1.27m in Kensington and Chelsea. The capital also showed the highest annual growth, with prices increasing by 13.6 per cent in the year to May.

The official report also noted a lack of housing supply was part of the increase in house prices across the country.

Last week, the House of Lords’ Economic Affairs Committee strongly recommended the government lift its target by 50 per cent and build 300,000 homes each year in order to tackle the housing crisis.

Michelle Lawson, director at Hampshire-based Lawson Financial, said her main request for the new minister was to re-ignite the buy-to-let market and then leave the industry to settle, “as there have been constant changes and nothing has been left long enough to see what the effects of any change has been”.

peter.walker@ft.com