Sunday, 15 December 2013

Letter to JD-P regarding the 'Help to Buy' risk assessment

Below is the full text of my second letter of the day to Jackie Doyle-Price regarding my request that she proposes the publishing of the risk assessment report into the ‘Help To Buy’ scheme.

Dear Ms Doyle-Price,

According to an article in The Independent today, a Freedom of Information (FOI) response to the Shadow Local Government Secretary, Hilary Benn, revealed that the Government does indeed hold details of a risk assessment into ‘Help to Buy’, but that publication has been blocked by ministerial veto.  This is at odds with the Government’s own statement that it did not hold such information and that it was the independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) was responsible for housing forecasts and held any risk assessments on the ‘Help To Buy’ scheme.

It seems as though there is a great deal of concern that the ‘Help To Buy’ scheme may actually be harmful to the UK’s economy and “a string of independent housing experts have publicly warned that Help to Buy, launched by George Osborne in this year’s Budget to give people a lift on to the property ladder, will overheat the housing market and “detonate a bomb” under the British economy.

An official at the Department for Communities and Local Government stated that: “Disclosure of information related to the formulation and development of policy would impede the effective conduct of government and good policy-making, as ministers and officials need to be able to conduct rigorous and candid assessments of their policies and programmes, including considerations of the risks, pros and cons without there being premature disclosure, which might close off better options. The release of the information would also inhibit officials from ... thinking the unthinkable and considering a wide range of scenarios and their potential impact.”

If memory serves me correctly, this is the same excuse used for not publishing the risk assessment regarding the changes to the NHS and Social Care services that has caused such controversy.

With so much bad publicity being focused on the misuse of statistics by members of the Government, I’m sure you will agree that a greater degree of transparency is needed at the moment to restore faith in the Government’s economic strategy.

I ask you to propose that the risk assessment into the ‘Help To Buy’ scheme is released to the public with any contextualization that would be required to explain the more fear-inducing elements of the assessment added, of course.

By releasing the risk assessment, the Government would be able to allay people’s fears and, perhaps, restore a little of the confidence in the democratic process so harmed by the actions of numerous MPs of all parties.

As always, I look forward to your reply on this issue.


Myles Cook

PS I apologise for this second e-mail in a day but I have only just read the article and, as I have said before, my mental health condition forces me to cover different subjects in different e-mails although this is, of course, helpful to you in making sure that you can keep track of which e-mails you have already answered too.

Again, I’m not expecting a reply but any I do get will be posted right here!

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