Ed Balls calls for 100,000 new affordable homes
In a speech to the Labour party conference, Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls unveiled a plan to use the proceeds from the auction of the new fourth generation (4G) mobile–phone spectrum to build 100,000 affordable homes.
Speaking yesterday in Manchester, he said: “Let’s commit that money from the 4G sale and build over the next two years 100,000 new homes – affordable homes to rent and to buy – creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and getting the construction industry moving again. Add to that a stamp duty holiday for first-time buyers, and we can deliver real help for people aspiring to get on the property ladder.”
The auction of 4G will see the sale of chunks of radio spectrum to mobile companies supporting future communication services. This could raise between £3billion and £4billion, according to social enterprise charity the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA), though the telecom watchdog Ofcom did not confirm this figure.
The previous Labour government raised £22.5billion in 2000 to help pay off the national debt with the auction of 3G spectrum.
Ed Balls mentioned the loss of 119,000 construction jobs in two years and a 68 per cent fall in the number of affordable homes being built as a signal for urgent action to kick-start growth.
Further explaining his idea, he said: “And at a time when government budgets are tight, we must think innovatively about how we can finance these vital projects over the coming decades, drawing on the private sector and long-term pension savings.”
Then, criticising the coalition’s austerity programme, the Shadow Chancellor said: “If businesses are going bust, not hiring new workers, you can’t get the deficit down. If the economy’s not growing, you can’t get the deficit down.”
Ed Balls’ initiative of using 4G auction proceeds to build affordable homes was just one of a series of eye-catching policy initiatives aired yesterday in Manchester on the first day of the Labour party conference.