The quickest way to kick start the British economy is to stimulate the housing market. Therefore the comments made by a business leader in the last week should be taken particularly seriously.
Steve Morgan, the founder of house builder Redrow, despite announcing sharply increased profits for the y/e 30 June 2011 of £25.3m (2010: £0.7m), called the UK planning system a “living nightmare.” His other comments included:
“Redrow spends more on planning fees than bricks.”
“If we build the housing the country requires of 250,000 a year for 25 years, then we would build on only 1% of the English land mass.”
Perhaps his most important statement was as follows:
“The outlook for the industry remains challenging, with the lack of mortgage supply and general economic uncertitude (sic) affecting what is undoubtedly a huge demand for new housing.”
One way the Coalition Government could improve the supply of mortgages is to subsidise first time buyers beyond the small scheme running at present. The funds could come from stopping the farce which is taking place within the NHS reforms.
Initially it was going to cost £1.3bn to close the PCTs and the RHAs. The latest estimate is over £3bn and rising. The third reading of the Health and Social Care Bill took place this week. It is thought the Lords may wreck it. The 2013 deadline for the introduction of new commissioning groups has been scrapped.
At the heart of the proposals is the concept of giving health professionals budget control “for the good of the patient.” Nowhere in the seven year training schedule for GPs is there any sort of business instruction. Many of the doctors I have met are pretty street wise on their own pay but whether this can translate in a success with an £80bn budget is open to doubt.
On Saturday 10 September the ‘Daily Mail’ led with a headline reading ‘Phantom patients net GPs millions’. The article exposed dishonest doctors who are claiming for patients (up to £100 each) who are not on their books. The suggestion is that there could be up to 3.5 million ‘ghost patients’ costing more than £100m annually.
These are the same people to whom Messrs Cameron, Clegg and Lansley want to give the budgets.
It is indeed a living nightmare.