The big Autumn statement announcement pre-briefed to today’s papers is that the government is banning letting fees. This is yet another u-turn by Theresa May – just 8 weeks ago her housing minister Gavin Barwell publicly dismissed the proposal as a “bad idea”. Such a bad idea that May herself voted against it in 2014, and the Tories voted the same policy down again in 2013. Kate Andrews from the Institute for Economic Affairs says:
“The Chancellor can come in and not have to commit any of his own spending to do something that seems like it’s trying to help those who are just managing. But of course this is him skirting around the issue of the housing crisis altogether… Politicians will implement the dumbest policies to avoid actually addressing the issue.”
As the National Landlords Association explains, tenants will still foot the bill:
“Philip Hammond lacks any understanding of how the sector works. Agents will have no other option than to shift the fees on to landlords, but adding to landlords’ costs will only push more towards increasing rents.”
Yet another Miliband policy gimmick pinched from Labour’s 2015 manifesto. The politics make sense, the papers have written it up kindly, but even the minister knows the policy is a dud.
UPDATE: Barwell speaks:
“It is the nature of the job that you have to defend current policy even when you’re working to change it.”