Truss: Build a million homes on green belt land to boost the economy
Treasury Minister Liz Truss is taking a high-risk gamble in her bid for the Tory leadership by proposing building homes on the green belt.
In a speech at a conference in London, she is unveiling a personal manifesto that includes planning reforms to allow more homes to be built.
It comes just days after she said the Conservatives should build a million homes on the green belt to allow people under 40 to buy their own home.
Her controversial proposal, in a Mail on Sunday interview accompanied by a glossy photo shoot, horrified many Tory MPs, for whom the green belt is sacrosanct.
But speaking at a Financial Times Brexit and Beyond conference, Ms Truss will declare: “High housing costs prevent people moving to more productive jobs.
“So people can’t live near the best jobs, and businesses can’t access the best talent.
“We need to reform our planning system and get more homes built – just as countries like Japan and Germany have.
“We’ve already made progress on this and last year we delivered over 222,000 homes. That’s the highest level in all but one of the last 31 years.”
Ms Truss, Chief Secretary to the Treasury and Chancellor Philip Hammond’s deputy, is attempting to portray herself as the Thatcherite candidate in the Tory leadership race.
She will talk of “the need to embrace Brexit and unlock the opportunities that will liberate people to live their best lives”.
The Chief Secretary will demand further reforms to housing policy, building local transport networks and invest in education.
“Our number one challenge is economic growth,” she will say. “The way we are going to get growth up is to leave our comfort zone, challenge ourselves, and take more risks.”
She will add: “I think it’s vital that entrepreneurs also know they’re respected in society.
“They are heroes – take Carole Kane and her business partner, Mahmud Kamani, who set up Boohoo in Manchester. Risking their own money – they created clothes, jobs and a bright future for their city.
“I am worried that an insidious notion is being allowed to infect Britain that somehow wealth is something that is never deserved.
“That whatever the risk someone has taken, whatever the hard work they have put in – it is subject to suspicion. I think it’s this anti-success attitude that is hugely damaging.”
In her controversial Mail on Sunday interview, Ms Truss said: “We need to build a million homes on the London green belt near railway stations, and around other growing cities, specifically to allow the under 40s to be able to own their homes.
“We should allow villages to expand by four or five houses a year without having to go through the planning system, so people can afford to live locally.”
She also said: “There has been a sea change in politics since the Tories last won a majority in 2015. The Conservative party needs to wake up.
“Just doing more of what we have been doing for the past nine years is not going to win over modern Britain. We need to be bold, otherwise we will be annihilated by the tsunami of Corbyn and Farage.”
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