There was an article on the Guardian website “How do we tackle the housing market crisis? By the experts” that intrigued me. I studied it thoroughly, and came to the conclusion that it was fundamentally flawed. We’ll get round to why I think that a bit later.
For as long as I can remember, the UK has had a housing crisis, and it is a source of constant wonderment to see that nobody has found a way of solving the problem. If you read through the article, you may come to the same conclusions as I did.
The “experts” they refer to represent different aspects of the housing market, viz.
mortgages, estate agent, charity (Shelter), landlord, rate setter, and housing professional.
The following statement is clear enough – “The basic problem is the imbalance between supply and demand.” – which is true of many things, not just housing. However, the supporting discussion relates only to the “Supply”, of housing, and totally ignores the “Demand”, and the factors affecting it.
Now I think it is safe to say that you cannot solve a problem if you only try to fix one part of it. But this is in effect what they have been doing for years, and it obviously doesn’t work. The rate they are going they will have eventually covered the whole of the UK with houses, asphalt (and potholes), and there will still be a housing crisis!
The Demand side must be addressed too!
What factors govern demand? I can certainly think of a few:-
Birthrate is not as simple as it seems, for although there is a tendency towards fewer offspring in the indigenous population, the immigrant populations still maintain a higher birthrate. This has caused problems in some areas where hospital beds for delivery have not been available in sufficient supply.
Deathrate tends to reduce with improving healthcare, but will healthcare continue to improve? The NHS appears to be suffering from overload at the moment, and resistance to antibiotics, and extreme weather events, could change the picture rather radically.
Immigrants (3) are those migrants that have already established families, and are the ones responsible for the increasing birthrate.
Immigration (4) are the new arrivals. With an annual influx of over 200,000, if we assume 4 persons to a household, we will need 50,000 new houses as a result.
According to the housing professional, “We can only tackle this by building more homes – in England we need to build 250,000 a year just to keep pace with our population. We’re achieving less than half that, with just 112,630 homes built in the year to March 2014.”
My question here is “Does this include houses for the new immigrants, or not?”
I think you can see where I am going with this by now. The government glibly talks of immigration ‘helping the economy’, but forgets to mention the ramifications that will be felt for years to come. Perhaps they don’t understand the problem themselves?
If you don’t mind seeing “England’s green and pleasant land” being transformed into one big urban wasteland, relax, sit back, and do nothing.
If however, you place value on your Green Belt, and don’t want to see it swallowed up by new housing estates, start talking to your political representatives.
The Conservatives are unlikely to be of help, see:- Theresa May waters down Tory migration target