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by Ray Fleming

I T always happens. Both parties do it. In his Budget speech the Chancellor launches a bold new initiative which catches the media's imagination but then within twenty-four hours turns out to be not quite what it seemed. This year's example is Mr Osborne's idea for government loans to help people who want to buy new houses to secure a mortgage. It looked like a double-whammy because it would not only help 130'000 people to become home owners it would also give a much-needed boost to the house-building industry. Unfortunately, within twenty-four hours doubts were surfacing. Pressed in Parliament to say whether or not the scheme would apply to second homes the Business Secretary Vince Cable could only say, “The scheme has not yet been designed in detail.” So why was it launched with such a headline-grabbing fanfare? Meanwhile mortgage lenders were questioning the viability of the scheme and revealing that despite long discussions with the Treasury no agreement had been reached on how it would work. One minister who obviously believes it is OK is Nick Boles, the planning minister, who joined a meeting of builders immediately after Mr Osborne's Budget statement to tell them that there will be deregulation of planning restrictions, in some cases abolition of them. NB. New planning regulations, revised after extensive consultation, come into force in the near future!