Blog: Is the UK heading for a break up and what are the implications for housing?
Following last year’s referendum on independence for Scotland and the SNP surge in the General Election, what does the future hold for the make-up of the UK? Annie Mauger, director of CIH’s national business units, shares her views ahead of Housing 2015.
In the historic moment when the exit poll was announced on 7 May, I was with the CIH Scotland board members. We all shared the stunning news and slowly absorbed the implications over the next few days. No one would have predicted quite such a result or the polarity that it creates in the UK.
As executive director for CIH in the devolved nations and the Republic of Ireland, I am fascinated by what happens next. We have already seen the big impact that devolution has had on housing across the nations, with the abolition of right to buy and mitigation of the bedroom tax in Scotland, a new housing act and local government reorganisation in Wales, and Northern Ireland’s unique housing landscape.
Housing is one issue, but finance is another. In Scotland, the SNP will be fighting even harder to have fiscal powers over a range of areas but particularly welfare, devolved to the Scottish Government. Wales will be looking to do the same. Welfare reform will dominate the agenda this year and the devolved governments will be fighting for control over as much of the decision-making around this as possible to mitigate the worst impacts of the savings that George Osborne plans to deliver.
However, we are not anticipating the break up of the UK any time soon. There is no plan for another referendum or a critical mass of support in Wales for any change, given the election result for Plaid Cymru. That said, with a slender majority, it will be hard for the Westminster government to ignore the strong voice of the SNP on the opposition benches, and they will fight hard for what they want.
I am looking forward to hearing more from the panel of experts at Housing 2015, having a great debate about the landscape across the UK and discussing whether meeting housing need is going to become an issue of geography.