UK Politics

PM opts for 'Buffett speak' on home building and jobs

David Cameron
David Cameron talks 'Buffett speak' on house building plans at the Conservative Party conference

The Prime Minister gave me an expression from high finance to describe the powers he's giving to local communities on his housing plans.

They're getting "more skin in the game", he told me.

I've since learned it's a term coined by the renowned US investor Warren Buffett.

That's when wheeler-dealers use their own money to buy stock in the company.

Community confidence

So how does Wall Street connect with a local housing planning application?

According to David Cameron, it's all about giving local communities the confidence and clout to have a bigger say on where housing should be built.

Housing was one of the issues we talked about in my one-to-one TV interview with the PM, at the Conservative Party conference.

We were in Cloud 23 inside the sky-rise Hilton Hotel in central Manchester... it's a luxury bar with amazing views across the city.

The strongest drink on offer was a glass of tepid hotel water. But the contents of David Cameron's interview was pretty strong stuff.

"The housing market isn't working at the moment. No one is building enough houses," he told me.

The government wants to build 100,000 new homes on former government property.

But it's also taken flak over its proposals to loosen planning controls; developers worry that planning grid-lock may result as local residents oppose applications for new homes.

"You avoid 'nimbyism' by giving local communities more 'skin in the game'," he said.

"As more homes get built, your community keeps the council tax. You get a 'new homes bonus'.

"As factories are built in your area, you will keep the business rates as well," said the Prime Minister.

"The way to get over nimbyism is to give people an interest in allowing the go-ahead for sensible and sustainable development."

Bombardier's future

Bombardier workers in Derby
Bombardier train workers march to save their jobs in Derby

I also pressed him on the future of train making in Derby and Bombardier, one of the region's best known manufacturing names.

"We can't change the contracts that Bombardier didn't win. Those terms were set by the last government. We can't reopen those," he told me.

Bombardier has an exhibition stand right by the entrance of the Conservative conference.

Many Tories have been giving their support for the campaign to reopen the Thameslink rail contract.

Bombardier lost that to Siemens of Germany. There have already been 1,400 redundancies, half the Derby workforce.

"For future contracts, we can make sure we have better ways of doing things in this country," said the PM.

"I'm straining at the leash... straining every sinew to do this... to make sure Bombardier can benefit from future work because there's huge investment going on in the rail industry."

But what if Bombardier, a French-Canadian multi-national, pulls out of the UK altogether?

Said David Cameron: "I don't believe that's what Bombardier wants to do. It's a great company with a long heritage. And it has a bright future in this country.

"There are future contracts where I would like Bombardier competing vigorously for them and we are going to do everything we can."

Like the housing issue, this Prime Minister wants the future of British train making to have firmer foundations in future.

It's all about level playing fields.