The Housing and Planning Bill has to be seen as one of the most important and controversial pieces of legislation to go through Parliament in recent decades. Given this, it is no wonder that it is undergoing such scrutiny in the House of Lords.
Whilst the Prime Minister and other leading Conservative figures are keen to demonstrate the revived ability for young dreamers to own their first home, others right across the political spectrum have been quick to highlight their concerns about the loss of affordable housing stock. In a letter to the Guardian, Cllr David Hodge – leader of the Tories at the Local Government Association (LGA) –urged peers in the House of Lords to accept amendments to the proposals to assist in the delivery of affordable homes at a local level.
This concern has led to three defeats of the Bill within the Lords, with two of the most crucial points, affordability of starter homes and council land sales undergoing severe iterations. Labour, Liberal Democrat and some crossbench peers have supported an amendment stipulating repayment of the 20% discount on first time homes, available to those under 40, on a sliding scale if the property is sold during the first 20 years.
The third defeat of the Bill came on Wednesday 13 April, as Peers ruled that Ministers will have to gain parliamentary approval before making any changes to rules that force local authorities to give over the proceeds from the sale of higher – value council properties to the Treasury.
Other defeats earlier in the week meant that the government also had to accept two amendments to other aspects of the Bill, including a Labour-backed proposal to make sure that local authorities are able to replace those homes that are sold, one-for-one.
Tackling the housing crisis has never been as central to the ideals of so many as it is now. With more and more Londoners being priced out of their home city and this being a key focus of the London Mayoral debates, the passing of the Housing Bill, whatever its final shape and form, remains a key piece of legislature which could affect the lives of millions across the country, for years to come.