Posted by: Jules Birch07/04/2010
The interviews, campaign speeches and baby kissing are in full swing but back in Westminster there’s still some unfinished business.
Some things we already knew would thud into the in-tray of the next housing minister: implementation of housing revenue account (HRA) reform and regulation of the private rented sector are two obvious examples; and negotiations over the next spending review will loom large on the horizon.
Plans to give more powers over housing to the Welsh Assembly look like being a casualty of the election too. According to BBC news, the Conservatives will block the legislative competence order going through the Westminster parliament because they object to plans to suspend the right to buy and to allow traveller sites contrary to local decisions.
All of those issues and more will feature in written answers today and yesterday, with some MPs taking a last chance to raise issues before they stand down and others setting down markers for the next parliament. Among the last-minute things we learned: new use class orders for houses in multiple occupation are expected to generate an extra 8,500 planning applications a year. Those powers made it through just before Easter.
There was still time for some last-minute announcements from Communities and Local Government.
Yesterday John Healey £146m of housing and planning delivery grant - something the Tories say they will scrap. On Easter Monday he gave a special planning power to parish councils to build new affordable homes.
That ‘boost for rural communities’ was just as well, since the government has since been forced to drop Budget plans to scrap tax relief on holiday homes - depending on your point of view, an attack on tourism or the closing of a loophole for second home owners.
All of which leaves a big pile of unfinished business for the next parliament. Who will be taking the decisions and voting on them? The election result is uncertain - it’s conceivable that the next housing minister could be Labour, Conservative or even Lib Dem - but it does look certain that the next parliament will include more new MPs than any for the last 65 years.
From Inside edge
Housing commentator Jules Birch puts the latest news in context