Nevertheless I'm going to have a go at predicting what is going to be in the housing White Paper.
The first easy prediction is that there will be much talk about looking after generation rent. And the second one is that there won't be any teeth behind any of the measures aimed at helping them. The Conservative Party now has a large number of well off landlords in its ranks. They will dominate the decision making. The Party is, of course, wise enough to know that it cannot allow itself to be seen to completely neglect the upcoming generation so it will make the announcement with a great deal of publicity that they are introducing 3 year rental agreements. Then they will make them voluntary. With the result that in any area of shortage the vast majority of tenants won't be able to get a longer term than 6 months. In other words there will be no meaningful change. Right now if you and your landlord agreed to a longer tenancy it could be done quite legally. Try and get one! So absolutely nothing will have changed. Except for the promises.
I also predict that there will be a lot of fuss made about allowing councils to do a small amount of building to rent. This is excellent news. Provided that they are allowed to insist that any of the tenants who wish to buy their own home do so at a full market price. Without that rule very few councils will be able to build. And the chances of the Conservatives abolishing one of their long established policies are slims. So once again we are most likely to see verbal support and no meaningful action.
At the same time as putting a small amount of verbal support behind public and voluntary sector housing I expect significant amounts of money to go into the hands of the private sector housing development companies. I think the government is gearing up to provide them with access to cheap finance and grants to develop brown field sites. I also think the developers are quite clever enough to take the money to develop sites they have long had their eyes on and to happily pocket the governments money without building anywhere really difficult. Hold your breath if you are hoping to see large numbers of the already existing homes in places like inner city Bradford refurbished and restored. Breathe easily if you want to watch developers take money from taxpayers to work on a few large and relatively simple brown field developments.
One of the few good things that I am hoping to hear is an announcement about measures to force developers who have already received planning permission to go ahead and actually build. This is a very sensible and admirable move. Developers are indeed sitting on a lot of land and doing nothing with it in the hope that the land will increase in value and they'll get better prices when the homes are eventually sold. The way to put a stop to this is to slap huge council tax bills on any land not developed after a period of time. Instead of doing this I expect instead to hear about a weak and wishy washy attempt to encourage them by removing outline permission after a number of years. It won't be enough and it won't be quick.
Expect much continued noise over the joys of the government's efforts to help young first time buyers by giving them taxpayers money to help towards the deposit. This plays well with young voters as it really does look like the government is trying to help them get on the housing ladder. Unfortunately what it actually does is means lots of other young people will also be subsidised at taxpayers' expense to get their deposit money together. As a consequence demand for starter homes will increase but supply of suitable homes will remain desperately short. So the price will go up and no one will actually be helped. The government will therefore be spending taxpayers money in order to subsidise a rise in house prices. The scheme is a giant waste of money and a giant lie. But it is good propaganda so it will continue.
Finally expect absolutely nothing to be done about forcing developers to build what is needed instead of what they find most profitable. Every local authority in the country is being made to come up with a plan for housing development that central government has to sign off. It would be really easy to insist that nothing could be built unless it matched the needs analysis in the plan. Instead we will continue with the crazy pattern of almost every plan identifying a need for small starter homes for the young and more specialist accommodation for the elderly whilst almost every development that is approved is for 3 and 4 bedroom executive homes, many of them on the green belt.
Prediction is, as I say, a very dodgy business. I look forward to eating my words and being proved badly wrong in a couple of days time when the White Paper comes out. Alternatively I look forward to the government's housing policy continuing to be deeply unpopular even with their own voters as developers continue to eat away at the green belt without doing anything significant to meet the actual housing needs of this country.