The government’s announcements this week about housebuilding have not got me very excited since the majority of the funding has gone for home ownership ‘products’. A small percentage of the new homes to be built will be at affordable rents (the definition of ‘affordable’ is rent at 80% of the market which make them unaffordable to many).
What is equally worrying is the use of private developers whose interests are not, and will never be, the mass development of homes at prices/rents that people can afford.
The fact is that private developers, left to their own devices, will not build enough to meet demand, especially when the greatest need is for affordable rented housing in urban areas. It is not in their interest to do so, since the result would be lower house prices and land values, eroding their profitability.
Any solution to Britain’s housing crisis must include a bigger contribution from the public sector. Rather than coercive measures, the focus should be on enabling local authorities and housing associations that wish to build social housing.
I will come clean here. The two paragraphs (immediately above) are spot on but are not my own words but lifted directly from that well-known leftie newspaper, the Financial Times, in an editorial piece on 5th January.
i initially thought that the FT was an unlikely source for these words, but on reflection a paper like the FT can take a long term view about what is needed for a healthy economy, and it can see that the economy will suffer by allowing the housing crisis to worsen.
If we are to tackle the ever-growing housing crisis, we must build the homes that are needed – and that are homes to rent that people can actually afford – not pour public money into subsidising private ownership. That might be a successful electoral ploy but it will create a more uneven society.