The Houses that Mac Built

The latest repost n post-war housing policy

RGS History

Already, before the war, housing was a big issue (see the film Housing Problems in the previous post, Newtown Neurotic). Labour, despite the problems of the building programme in the context of past-war reconstruction, managed to build 600,000 new council houses. That is the context of the famous 1950 pledge by the Conservatives, at the 1950 Party Conference, to build 300,000 houses a year. This was a popular commitment.

Restrictions on the construction of housing, necessitated by curbs on imported raw materials to help the balance of payments and, later, cuts in public spending had been unpopular with voters.

The first Minister of Housing in Churchill’s government was Harold Macmillan (1951-54). Macmillan had made his name as a reforming or social Tory (he even toyed with crossing the floor to Labour), with a strong commitment to social reform.  His housing policy fitted Churchill’s consensus politics (and his old coalitionist tendencies)…

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