Apart from the obvious international trade dilemma posed by Brexit, in my view the most pressing economic challenge of our generation is that of housing. It is clear in both England and Wales that two opposing forces are at work: those of supply and demand. The problem is national, the solutions always local. That tells you everything you need to know about why Britain labours with this challenge, and has done so for many years.
The Housing White Paper released last week, was an early test of the Government's commitment. It covered familiar ground - reform, support for people to get on to the bottom rung of the ladder, and a greater recognition of the need for a healthy private rental market. After years of announcements, re-announcements and policy reboots, the main question can still be asked: will the rhetoric of radical change be accompanied by the substance needed to deliver?
As a resident of Wales, I am only too aware that this is not just an English problem. The dilemmas affect ministers in Cardiff too. The government in Wales is embarking on a planning policy overhaul to create a new framework for the whole of Wales. Will their National Development Framework succeed where the Local Development Plans failed?
Our hamlets and villages have their own needs, of incremental growth, adaptation to changing employment patterns, lifestyles, and age profiles. Rural communities are as complex and challenging to house as our fellow citizens in urban areas, but in different ways. And all the time we are conscious of and responsible for protecting that national treasure - the great British countryside.
CLA members are critical players in the provision of homes in rural areas. They provide housing for their families, employees, and local communities, and always have done so. This service is highly personal and sensitive to regulatory burdens. CLA members also provide land needed for new housing of all tenures, shapes, and sizes, which can be like swimming against a regulatory tide so strong that stagnation and shortage often prevail
Entitlement to own a house is not a given, but it is little surprise that the gap between earnings and affordability is so great - in both town and country. This is a national and generational issue and one where CLA members can really make a difference. We can help improve quality and increase the supply of affordable homes in the countryside.
Using permitted development rights, adding some market housing to subsidise rural exception sites, on farm retirement homes, exempting let homes at affordable rents from capital taxation, and the same for land sold for that purpose are all ideas that the CLA is promoting in our discussions with the Treasury and at DCLG. We relentlessly promote a more efficient planning system in both Westminster and Cardiff, as well as locally.
In a national debate that is too often dominated by the challenges of our cities, the CLA is the voice setting out a credible vision for our rural communities.Suggest a correction