Yvette Cooper tells MPs that plans to increase number of households with equity stake will go ahead
Housing minister Yvette Cooper is at odds with key advisers over the government's policy of increasing the number of shared ownership dwellings, it emerged this week.
Peter Dixon, chairman of the Housing Corporation, made clear his differences with the minister when he told the House of Commons' ODPM select committee that the corporation had no plans to increase the 30% proportion of its programme devoted to shared ownership dwellings.
He said: "We won't go much further as the demand for rented accommodation is very great."
He was supported by Treasury housing supply review author Kate Barker, who was speaking at a separate National Housing Federation event.
Barker, who has been appointed to the corporation's board, expressed reservations about the capacity of some households to buy a share in a property without becoming financially overstretched.
She said: "There is a role for intermediate housing but we have to be careful about saying that it's the right answer for everybody."
Cooper, on the other hand, told the committee that the government was determined to press ahead with plans outlined in its pre-Budget report to offer more households the chance to buy a stake in their home.
She said: "We want to go further on shared equity, but we need to do more work on the precise balance."
She also told MPs that proposals for a planning gain supplement did not mean that councils and agencies working in the growth areas should stop drawing up local "roof taxes", as has been done in Milton Keynes.
We won’t go further as the demand for rentals is high
Peter Dixon, Housing Corporation
She said: "The Milton Keynes tariff has great potential to be used between now and the introduction of the planning gain supplement. There's huge scope for a tariff in the Thames Gateway."
Margaret Ford, chair of English Partnerships, told the select committee that the fragmented nature of land ownership in the Thames Gateway meant that it would be difficult to secure agreement on a tariff in the area.
She added that although the level of the supplement ought to be set at a modest rate, it should be high enough to "let us raise resources beyond the current system".
Ford also said recent changes to PPS3 planning guidance would make it easier to develop greenfield sites.
Barker expressed reservations that the Milton Keynes-style tariffs would provide a sufficiently robust source of funds during housing market downturns. She told the audience at the National Housing Federation meeting that the explosion in buy-to-let had helped stem rising home ownership in recent years.
She said: "When you have low interest rates over a long term, you would expect more to be able to move into shared ownership. That has been depressed by buy-to-let."
The committee was questioning Cooper, Ford and Dixon as part of its affordable housing inquiry.