Tories Attack Michael Gove's Latest Wheeze To Solve The UK's Housing Crisis

His predecessor Simon Clarke called the move "anti-business".
Michael Gove and an image of Cornwall
Michael Gove and an image of Cornwall
Getty / Getty Creative

Tory MPs have torn into Michael Gove’s latest wheeze to solve the housing crisis.

The levelling up secretary has announced that holiday lets could require planning permission in a bid to reduce housing pressure in tourist hotspots.

Councils could be given new powers to ban future holiday lets if their local area does not have enough affordable housing to rent or buy.

However, former Tory cabinet minister Simon Clarke slammed the move as “anti-business” and pointed out the mess was due to the government’s failure to “build enough homes”.

Clarke, who served as levelling up secretary under Liz Truss, wrote on Twitter: “So many of our interventions in the housing market, from anti-business ones like this to [very] costly demand-side subsidies like Help to Buy, stem from our failure to build enough homes, and to make the argument to the public about why this matters.”

His post was retweeted by former housing secretary Robert Jenrick who now serves in government as the immigration minister, although that has now been deleted.

Kevin Foster, the Tory MP for Torbay in Devon, disagreed saying they had seen situations where families had been evicted in order to create holiday accommodation.

“I agree we need to create more homes for families, but this change is needed for reasons beyond just housing supply overall,” he added.

One Whitehall source told The Times that the move had been driven by concerns that in some areas new-build homes were being bought up en masse by speculative landlords to rent out on platforms such as Airbnb.

It comes after a number of government ideas to ease the housing crisis have fallen flat under the Tory government.

A flagship Tory scheme to help first-time buyers was recently branded a “flop” after just 35 homes were delivered.

HuffPost UK also revealed how Boris Johnson’s “benefits to bricks” pledge to help welfare claimants get mortgages had failed to get off the ground.

The government has said it will consult on the change and on another proposal for a registration scheme for short-term holiday lets.

Gove said that while tourism brings “many benefits” to the economy, in too many communities local people have been “pushed out of cherished towns”.

He added: “I’m determined that we ensure that more people have access to local homes at affordable prices, and that we prioritise families desperate to rent or buy a home of their own close to where they work.

“I have listened to representations from MPs in tourist hot spots and am pleased to launch this consultation to introduce a requirement for planning permissions for short term lets.”

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said it will consult on requiring planning permission for an existing home to start to be used as a short term let, as well as whether to give owners flexibility to let out their home for a maximum number of nights a year without the need for the permission.

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