Examination of Witnesses

Part of Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:40 pm on 23rd June 2022.

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Will Tanner:

I agree with quite a lot of what Alex has just said; I think it is about both supply and demand. I take a lot of Ian Mulheirn’s arguments, particularly about the role of interest rates, but I agree with Alex that we have not built enough homes for a very, very long time. We did a report called “Stamping out a bad tax”—another variation on the word “stamp”—that looked at abolishing stamp duty because, as a transaction tax, it has distorted effects within the market, in exactly the way you describe. There are ways of paying for that through second-home taxes and taxes on enveloped dwellings and the like. It is possible to do that in a fiscally neutral way, but it would be wrong for me to suggest that that will solve the housing crisis in one fell swoop. Ultimately, we need to do a number of different things. Over the last 10 years or so it has been easier for politicians to do demand-side changes to the housing market than to do supply-side changes, and that has led to some of the backlog that Alex talks of.

I would argue that some of the things in this Bill, particularly around compulsory purchase, land assembly, spatial planning and the role of development corporations, potentially unlock considerable amounts of supply. That is why this Bill is an important addition to the housing and planning system—it potentially fixes some of the roadblocks to supply over a number of years.