Yesterday’s speech on housing was an attempt by Theresa May to show that the government she leads can be about more than just Brexit.
The housing crisis was one of the themes May highlighted when she gave her first speech as prime minister on Downing Street in July 2016, but the issue seems to carry increased weight since last year’s snap election, with government concern finally beginning to match the scale of the challenge.
Since 2010, home ownership among those under the age of 45 has fallen by 904,000. Funnily enough, 45 years-old is not too far away from 47 years-old –the tipping point at which someone was more likely to vote Conservative than Labour at the 2017 general election.
The prime minister acknowledged that the election showed her “many people, particularly younger people, are angry about this”. Whilst the roots of this housing crisis pre-date May’s premiership, voters inevitably blame the government of the day for the problems they face – in this case, the fairly basic requirement of being able to put a roof over their heads.
In her address, May accepted that the cost of housing was entrenching social inequality and “exacerbating divisions between generations”.
Laying the blame for not building enough homes squarely at the feet of developers, she announced a package of measures that will affect England, including a proposal for local councils to consider revoking planning permission after two years if building has not started.
However, the speech has not gone far enough for some, with the Institute of Economic Affairs saying the government was “tinkering at the edges” and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation stating that the speech “overlooked entirely the role central government must play... private developers and local authorities cannot do this alone".
The prime minister was further undermined by a story in The Sun in which she denied being a NIMBY, despite admitting that she had opposed dozens of developments which would have yielded thousands of homes in her own constituency since 1997.
In 2004, the Barker Review of Housing Supply noted that the UK needed 250,000 new homes to be built every year to prevent spiralling house prices. Whilst action to address the housing crisis is welcome, with that target consistently missed and prices continuing to rise, might it be a case of too little, too late for the Conservatives to win back younger generations?
A man who is critically ill after being exposed to an unknown substance in Salisbury is believed to be a former Russian spy. Sergei Skripal and a female companion were found unconscious on a bench at The Maltings shopping centre on Sunday afternoon. Both are in intensive care and officials are awaiting the results of toxicology tests. Skripal was convicted in Russia of spying for MI6 in 2006 and sentenced to 13 years in jail but was later given refuge in the UK as part of a deal.
Justice secretary David Gauke will announce a review of the way prisoners are classified in a speech today. The Ministry of Justice will consider re-categorising prisoners based not only on sentence and risk of escape but also on the risk of continuing criminality in jail. An estimated 6,500 prisoners could be moved, with jailed gang members being put in higher security prisons in order to undermine the impact of organised crime on jails.
Health officials have called on food sellers and manufacturers to reduce the calories in their products by 20% across 13 food categories by 2024. Under the plans, products including savoury biscuits, cooking sauces, sandwiches and ready meals would be affected. Big businesses that fail to meet the requirements would be named and shamed under the plans. According to Public Health England, the target would cut costs to the NHS by £4.5 billion over 25 years, save £4.48 billion in social care costs, and prevent 35,000 premature deaths.
Sir Bradley Wiggins has stated that he did not cheat and claimed he is the victim of a smear campaign. A report by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee said Wiggins and Team Sky had “crossed an ethical line” by using drugs permitted under anti-doping rules to enhance performance instead of just for medical purposes. However, Wiggins, who is a five-time Olympic cycling champion and was the first Briton to win the Tour de France, “refutes that 100%”.
BUSINESS AND ECONOMY
The US is offering the UK a worse “open skies” deal after Brexit than it had as an EU member which, if implemented, would negatively impact the transatlantic operations of British carriers. Currently, flights between the UK and US are covered by the EU-US open skies treaty, however, there will be a gap that needs to be filled after Brexit. According to sources, the talks were cut short after US negotiators offered a standard bilateral agreement, which usually requires airlines to be majority owned and controlled by parties from their country of origin.
US Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has said that he is “extremely worried” about the impact of a trade war, voicing concern that it could undermine economic gains and urging the White House to reconsider the plan. However, President Trump pushed back during a meeting with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, telling reporters: “We’re not backing down.”
The Pensions Regulator has voiced concern over Melrose’s proposed £6.9 billion takeover of GKN. In a letter to Frank Field, chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, Lesley Titcomb, chief executive of the regulator, said it was “concerned that the increased leverage involved in the proposed takeover by Melrose is likely to have a detrimental impact on covenant” and “encouraged” Melrose to seek clearance from the Pensions Regulator before any deal. GKN has two pensions schemes with 32,000 members and an actuarial deficit of £400 million.
What happened yesterday?
US and European stocks began the week brightly despite concerns over a possible global trade war and uncertainty stemming from the inconclusive Italian election.
The FTSE 100 climbed 46.08 points, or 0.65%, to 7,115.98, with house builder Persimmon gaining 2.24% - putting it amongst the top performers. This was in spite of Theresa May’s speech targeting house builders and the Financial Times’ Lex suggests this may be to do with confidence that developers will resist calls to build more homes.
Meanwhile, the FTSE 250 climbed 180.45, or 0.93%, to 19,567. CLS led the way after gaining 7.97% whilst Ultra Electronics Holdings was the biggest loser, shedding 9.87% after calling off a takeover of US rival Sparton.
Across the Atlantic, the S&P 500 was up 1.1% to 2,720.94, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.37% to 24,874.76 and the Nasdaq was up one per cent to 7,330.71.
However, in Asia, the Nikkei fell 0.66% to 21,042.09 and the Hang Seng dropped 2.28% to 29,886.39.
On the currency markets, the pound climbed 0.3% against the dollar to $1.3843 and was up 0.34% against the euro at €1.1223.
Aggreko, Apax Global Alpha Limited, Bodycote, Cairn Homes, Escher Group Holdings, Headlam Group, Huntsworth, Harworth Group, Ibstock, Intertrek Group, IWG, Just Eat, Loopup Group, LSL Property Services, PJSC MNC Norilsk Nickel ADR, MPAC Group, SDL, Silence Therapeutics, Sirius Minerals, Yu Group
CAP-XX Limited, Craneware, Purecircle Limited (DI)
McCarthy & Stone
Blackrock North American Income Trust, CareTech Holding, Ecofin Global Utilities and Infrastructure Trust, Ediston Property Investment Company, JP Morgan Russian Securities, Nexus Infrastructure, Redx Pharma
UK Economic Announcements
(00:01) Retail Sales
COLUMNS OF NOTE
In The Telegraph, Lord Hague examines the collapse of moderate centre-left parties in Europe. He highlights that parties led by social democrats or moderate socialists neither head the government nor provide the main opposition in the UK, France, Germany or Italy. Far from celebrating, Hague asserts that it is dangerous for democracy – removing the ability to alternate between moderate parties, resulting in the stagnation of the centre-right and further surges of the far left and right. He contends that to be relevant again social democrats need to align with voters in rejecting uncontrolled immigration and a further loss of national sovereignty.
Writing in The Times, Rachel Sylvester argues that the UK’s departure from the EU should be delayed due to Theresa May’s lack of conviction. Torn between upholding the referendum result and keeping her party together or protecting the economy, she argues that it is increasingly clear that the prime minister is leading the country towards an outcome that she does not believe is in the national interest – for which there is no precedent. Sylvester concludes by saying that if the prime minister is unsure about her own policy, the people should be allowed to decide in a referendum on the final deal.
DID YOU KNOW?
The town of Centralia in Pennsylvania had its zip code discontinued by the US Postal Service in 2002 after it was all but abandoned by residents. The reason for this is the Centralia mine fire, which was sparked in 1962 and continues to burn in eight miles of pits 300 feet beneath the town – resulting in lethal levels of carbon monoxide. It is estimated that the fire could burn for another 250 years.
House of Commons
Oral Questions: Justice (including Topical Questions)
Legislation: Domestic Gas and Electricity (Tariff Cap) Bill – 2nd reading
House of Lords
Promoting co-existence between Israelis and Palestinians - Lord Polak
Use of gene editing in agriculture - Viscount Ridley
Future regulation of general aviation - Lord Kirkhope of Harrogate
Escalating violence and suppression of peaceful protests across the Democratic Republic of Congo - The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury
Laser Misuse (Vehicles) Bill [HL] - 3rd reading - Baroness Sugg
Secure Tenancies (Victims of Domestic Abuse) Bill [HL] - Report stage - Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth
Topical Questions (if selected)
Ministerial Statement: Widening Access to Higher Education
Scottish Government Debate: Local Government Finance (Scotland) Order 2018 [Draft]
Stage 1 Debate: Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (Relief from Additional Amount) (Scotland Bill)
House of Commons
Oral Questions: Scotland
Prime Minister’s Question Time
Opposition Day Debate
Motion in the name of Plaid Cymru - Subject to be announced
Motion in the name of the Democratic Unionist Party - Subject to be announced
House of Lords
Legislation: European Union (Withdrawal) Bill - Committee stage (day 5) - Lord Callanan
Impact on the availability of long-term housing for rent of holiday lets - Baroness Gardner of Parkes
Opportunities for the study of music in schools - The Earl of Clancarty
Increasing the number of fully trained nurses working in the National Health Service and the associated care services - Lord Clark of Windermere
Portfolio Questions: Education and Skills
Stage 3 Debate: Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Bill
Stage 1 Debate: UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Legal Continuity) (Scotland) Bill