Lyons of questioning

I’ll confess up front that I haven’t actually read one page of the 180 pages of the Lyons review; instead, I’ve read about 20 articles, blogs and briefings on it. As they’ve done all the hard work already, the purpose of this blog post is to make use of a rubbish pun for a title and share some of my comments, questions and musings on what I’ve read.

So, in no particular order:

Like many others, the review calls for devolution of funding to the regions – does this mean LEPs or someone else? Whoever is given the purse strings to hold, we in housing probably need to become their BFFs. 

What will it take to not only convince politicians of the bricks rather than benefits argument, but to get them to put their money where their mouth is?

As it seems our future will be public funding based on investment (such as loans and land) rather than grant, is it time to stop arguing/hoping for a return to the good old days of grant funding and to start planning for this future?

Lyons states the purpose of our sector is to build more homes and suggests more mergers/partnerships may be needed to ensure everyone doing their bit. I disagree that this is, or should be, THE purpose of the sector; there is so much value from those that provide good quality, affordable homes and excellent services in their communities.

Are the tides turning from housing been seen as a private problem to a public one that requires significant Government intervention?

Will politics be taken out of planning. i.e. planning committees making decisions to obtain votes rather than to tackle the housing crisis in their area?

Given Brandon Lewis’ response to the review, is there any hope of cross-party support for a long-term housing strategy? Or shall I give up now on such pragmatic ideas ever becoming a reality?!

Is protecting the property value of current home owners more important than helping those currently unable to achieve their dream of home ownership? How do we make the needs of the latter more important?

Why did the review only have a target of 200,000, is it simply not possible to build the number of homes we actually needed, is there some political benefit of not doing so?

Do the recommendations in the review go far enough; will it achieve the step change required or just tinker round the edges?

Giving the title of ‘economic development fund’ to a consolidated pot of all current housing funding streams suggests Lyons has understood the importance of housing to the economy; I hope the focus on outcomes rather than delivering in line with bidding rounds means an end to the stop/start game of affordable house building.

There are a few recommendations which would require neighbouring local authorities to work together, having never worked at a local authority, I wonder if this is realistic?

It’s good to see a focus at the local level rather than national policies/initiatives, because one size never fits all; local solutions to local problems are very much needed.

Surpluses have again some under scrutiny/criticism, why do politicians feel they can criticise the surpluses of housing associations (independent bodies), but not those of other private bodies, who will also benefit from public subsidies in one way or another?

Could local authorities take on the recommended role of being a key agent/lead developer given the cuts and changes they’ve faced in recent years, is the expertise there?

Could we/do we want to go it alone without the Government, are they holding us back/making it difficult, would it be easier to go it alone, to find our own investment?

I expect some of these questions can’t really be answered, and for some, the answer will be different depending on who’s answering. I suppose it’s never really a good sign when there are more questions than answers, or multiple answers to the same question, or both.

 

 

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