Build. More. Houses.
Rosamund Urwin has a rather strange and unnecessary piece in the Evening Standard warning us that Brexit will not miraculously solve the housing crisis:
Brexit may well enable a fast-moving few to buy, but I doubt it can offer a solution for the majority of those who want to escape renting. It’s like letting crows snack on a carcass; the rest of the aviary will still need feeding later too.
Although it may make the average home cheaper, Brexit is also expected to deplete the number of homes (including the “affordable” variety) being built. There’s a shortage of land earmarked for residential construction in London, partly because developers keep most of their vast landbanks as empty plots, rather than putting homes on them. Given the uncertainty Brexit has unleashed, developers are more likely now to delay or mothball schemes. That will exacerbate the shortage of housing stock long-term.
To top that off, building will soon incur bigger bills. The cost of imported materials has risen with the sliding pound and labour costs would increase without EU workers.
I don’t know a single person with a functioning brain who thought for a moment that Brexit would solve the housing crisis.
The only thing which will ever solve the housing crisis – bar a lethal smallpox pandemic that wipes out half of the population – is the one thing that successive cowardly, pathetic governments have not done: Build more houses.
“But this government is committed to building a million new homes by 2020“, whines David Cameron in protest. Does he want a medal? Net migration is running at upwards of 300,000 per annum. Even the government’s most sunny estimate of future housebuilding means less accommodation per capita in 2020 than there is today. Every month of this dithering, prevaricating (and now leaderless) Coke Zero Conservative government is a month when demand for housing further outstrips supply.
If you were captain of a sinking ship, taking on hundreds of gallons of water a minute, you should not expect to be hailed as a hero for filling your coffee mug with seawater and flinging it overboard instead of plugging the massive hole in the ship’s hull. It is a worthless gesture which makes almost zero difference – much like the government’s furious pretence that building more council houses and cooking up various “help to buy” schemes is a fitting response to a festering national crisis.
It’s all quite deliberate, of course. To actually build the number and type of new homes that Britain needs – in the cities, and upwards not outwards – would cause house prices first to stagnate and then to fall. And since houses in Britain are now revered more as an investment vehicle than somewhere to put the flat screen TV and shelter from the elements, we are now blessed with a generation of politicians more than happy to waffle on about the housing crisis but loathe to do anything to tackle it.
Dishonest, NIMBYish politicians are what stands in the way of resolving the housing crisis and putting the dream of home ownership back within reach of millions of hard-pressed middle class Britons. Brexit makes little difference either way.
Unlike education or healthcare, the solution to the housing crisis is actually as simple as it looks. But we continue to tolerate politicians who almost take pride in conspicuously doing nothing about it.
Top Image: Telegraph
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