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Payoffs to residents mooted to reverse 'housing crisis'

Housing developers should be allowed to offer ‘very substantial’ cash incentives to win the support of residents for new construction projects in their neighbourhoods, a think-tank report suggests

The report by Policy Exchange - described as David Cameron’s favourite think-tank - said decisions on new housing should be made by a ballot of affected residents, taking the decision out of the hands of council planners and preventing a vocal minority from blocking developments which are supported by the majority.

The proposal is one of a number of ideas designed to increase the supply of homes and stabilise property prices, to reverse a ‘housing crisis’ which has led to swollen waiting lists for social homes and excluded many would-be first-time buyers from the market.

The think-tank said that its proposed overhaul of housing policy could save taxpayers around £20 billion a year, principally by bringing down the cost of Housing Benefit and making it easier for social tenants to find work.

The report called for the Government to adopt an official policy of stable prices for housing and take measures to prevent the kind of inflation seen in the last decade, with the goal of ensuring that all working families should be able to afford a decent home by 2030.

Author Alex Morton also urged ministers to quadruple to 100,000 the number of new social homes built each year.

Housing minister Grant Shapps (pictured) said: ‘The coalition Government welcomes the ongoing debate into the future of housing in this country. We have already said that we will be a Government that both protects the most vulnerable in society and helps to meet the aspirations of the many.

‘The single biggest way that we can help is to get more homes built, which is why I’ve launched the New Homes Bonus, designed to ensure that communities benefit financially when they back more housing of any kind and affordable homes in particular.

‘The last government stood back as housing waiting lists doubled in this country and home-building plummeted to record lows. Our policies will reverse that decay and by fixing the wider economy we will ensure that, over time, more people are able to own their own homes.’

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