Sunday, 9 October 2016

The Independent gets it wrong but also right

In an article spotted by Lola, the Indie tries to get to the bottom of what is causing Britain's "housing crisis".

However, setting on one side that fact that there is no housing crisis, there is just a lack of cheap housing in expensive places, they do a good job of bringing up all the usual suspects as the the cause of high house prices: I'd recommend you read the article, but if you've not got time, the defendants in the dock are Maggie Thatcher, foreigners, BTL landlords, NIMBYs, CPRE, house builders (by which I think they mean developers aka speculators), banks, George Osborne, the law and councils. The Indie puts the finger on councils, CPRE and NIMBYs.

So that's a double fail, firstly for ignoring the effect of 500 year low interest rates and secondly for subscribing to the land-bankers' myth that building more houses will make them cheaper. So, just the usual mainstream media output you might think, until you get onto the section "Solutions".

Again, all the widely touted solutions are here: rent controls, mansion tax, confiscate land from house builders (by which they mean the speculators once again), relax the planning laws, protect tenants, then at No 6, impose LVT, which is a bit of a surprise. They then round off with ban multiple home ownership, subsidise mortgages, help housing associations to borrow more and build more houses. Full marks to the Indie for awarding five stars to LVT, but minus points for awarding the same to "build more houses".

Still, for something written in 2014, it's pretty refreshing.


Random said...

Certainly more refreshing than this:

Mark Wadsworth said...

Yes, twas a bit disappointing overall.

Bayard said...

R, don't sensible people do that anyway?

mombers said...

Another incentive to hold onto a bigger home than you need...

Rich Tee said...

I've been thinking about this a lot. I reckon the root cause is the insular nature of a British - particularly English - person, as summed up by the phrase "an Englishman's home is his castle."

I remember immigrants complaining to me that in the evenings the English just all go into their homes and watch TV or socialise at home rather than going outside and socialising in groups.

This leads to an excessive dependence on home/property as a safe haven against the outside world compared to other cultures.

This has probably protected England from the worst revolutionary excesses experienced by Europe (since people sitting at home are more difficult to reach politically and less likely to engage in revolutionary activities).

But large scale immigration introduces large numbers of people from cultures that socialise outside the home (like Muslims, whose social life revolves around the mosque), as well as putting pressure on the housing stock.

Bayard said...

"I reckon the root cause is the insular nature of a British - particularly English - person, as summed up by the phrase "an Englishman's home is his castle."

You may well be right, but it is difficult to disentangle this from an environment over many people's entire adult life of falling interest rates and therefore rising land prices and the windfall gains to landowners that have gone with it.

Personally, I am convinced that a period of rising interest rates and therefore rising land prices will remove a huge chunk of the present demand for "getting on to the housing ladder".

Bayard said...

Sorry, that should be "and therefore falling land prices".