Labour conference: Shadow Chancellor calls for more new affordable homes


Monday 1st October 2012

Ed Balls wants to see more affordable homes built.

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls has called for 100,000 new affordable homes to be constructed as well as a two-year stamp duty holiday for all first time buyers purchasing properties up to £250,000 in a bid to help more people gain a foot on the housing ladder and kick-start economic growth, during a Labour conference speech earlier today.

Mr Balls, MP for Morley & Outwood, said that the plan should be funded using the £3bn to £4bn expected to be raised from the forthcoming auction of the 4G mobile phone spectrum.

Using the lower estimate of £3bn would allow 100,000 affordable homes - a mix of shared ownership, affordable rent and social rent - to be built at a cost of £2.5bn and the two-year stamp duty holiday at a cost of around £500m.

Mr Balls told delegates: "Let's commit that money from the 4G sale and build over the next two years: 100,000 new homes - affordable homes to rent and to buy - creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and getting the construction industry moving again.

"Add to that a stamp duty holiday for first-time buyers, and we can deliver real help for people aspiring to get on the property ladder."

Commenting on Ed Ball's speech to the Labour Party Conference, John Cridland, CBI director-general, said: "What stood out of Ed Ball's speech for me was the emphasis on new housing. The CBI welcomes more action on housing investment, which would give a much-needed boost to growth. But such action must compliment continued efforts to reduce the deficit. The two must go together, it cannot be an either or.

"This speech firmed up Labour's plans for investment in infrastructure, but there will clearly be tough choices ahead in their zero-based spending review, and we will need to hear more of the detail. Both will need a strong focus on effective action and delivery."

Property entrepreneur John Hitchcox, chairman of Yoo, concurred: "Ed Balls' call for 100,000 new homes is reminiscent of his old boss Gordon Brown promising 3m new homes back in 2007. Balls is right to say the State needs to put its backing behind construction - reflecting the Coalition's decision to strip affordable housing requirements from private developers. Both are welcome policies that need to not be undermined elsewhere by stamp duty hikes and plans for mansion taxes."

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