SAJID JAVID is right to claim that a lack of affordable housing is “one of the biggest barriers to social progress” in the country today.

The Communities Secretary appeared on the Andrew Marr Show yesterday to suggest the Government should borrow money to invest in hundreds of thousands of new homes.

He is right to flag up a need for some new thinking, and having constantly argued against increased borrowing as part of a wider programme of austerity, it is interesting that the Government seems to be changing tack.

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However, simply throwing money at the problem is not going to solve it. There is a need for a much wider review of housing policy, with more power being delegated to the local level.

One of the chief problems with Britain’s housing stock is that it is extremely inconsistent.

Some areas are in desperate need of new houses, with demand far outstripping supply and prices soaring as a result.

Yet there are other areas where new houses are going up seemingly all over the place, causing a different set of issues. Try telling people living in Yarm or Northallerton, where major house-building schemes are ongoing, that hundreds more homes are still required.

A “one size fits all” policy will not address some of the localised issues that are proving so problematic. Instead, the limited devolution that was agreed when the Government created combined authorities, such as the one run by Ben Houchen, the Tees Valley Mayor, should be broadened in scope.

Regional authorities should have much greater power when it comes to devising a housing investment policy that suits their needs. That might mean building more affordable houses in some areas. But it could mean making better use of the existing housing stock in others