Housing Delusion

This month the Government published a White Paper “Fixing our broken housing market” which was whiter than white.     Full of home truths, so full that you could not disagree with any of it.    Except, all of it.      It is supposed to build on the previous promise to construct one million new homes by 2020.     There is about as much chance of that as pigs flying.     The real home truth is that the Government, in spite of its pleas to the contrary, doesn’t want lots more homes, but it needs to maintain the delusion that it is trying.

All the time there is a drastic housing shortage, property prices will continue to rise and property values will remain ridiculously inflated.      In the world of political double-speak our Government does not really believe what it says, even in White Papers.      If they were to build lots more homes in the next four years:-

  • property prices would fall costing them a lot of money in lost tax revenues and loosing them votes from home owners;
  • the green belt would have to be built on to provide the land, which would upset many Conservative constituencies and lose the votes of the rural community;
  • we would need increased immigration to supply the labour force, which would cost the votes of the Brexiteers;
  • and finally banks and building societies would have to find the capital, when they are already under-capitalised and reliant on these same over-priced property values.

That is why it will never happen.

Another hapless Housing Minister – Gavin Barwell – makes another  vacuous announcement.     Following on from the five previous Housing Ministers in the last four years, all of whom have made a succession  of unfulfilled promises about housing.

This time the publication of the white paper was timed to coincide with the debate on the Brexit withdrawal , thereby guaranteeing there would be  minimal attention focussed on the housing bill.

What does it offer:-

  • Threats of compulsory purchase to developers who hoard land banks and don’t build any houses in a reasonable timescale.  This ignores the very protacted delays in the planning system and the difficulties new homeowners have of securing mortgages. Nonetheless, large developers are sitting on thousands of units which already have outlined planning approval.  I doubt this change will deliver very many completed homes by 2020.
  • Encouragement to small house builders.  This plays to the small business lobby, but is only likely to deliver small results.  Nothing near the 200,000 a year plus target that has been set.
  • Prefabs to build more quickly.  An idea that worked well after the second world war but is hardly appropriate in these days of high density development.  Gearing up to provide factory built homes offsite has been talked about for many years.  It is never likely to take off with the complexity of our planning system.
  • There were promises of a major boost to retirement housing for sale boosted by the prospect of lots of older people wishing to downsize from family homes.  This is a considerable market which has not taken off because of the lack of good quality, affordable retirement housing.    All the White Paper says about this, is that there will be further studies of the options.    Planning complexities of retirement housing are compounded by Local Authority concerns about the demands placed on Social Services and Health Authorities.   In my experience that process means it takes at least three years from inception to completed houses on site.    Therefore, that probably means that there will be no additional new retirement houses by 2020, other than those projects already in the pipeline.
  • At the current rate of construction we are going to see another 450,000 new houses completed by 2020.    Any more is just political spin.   Kidology.  Or just downright LIES.

All in all  this is an extremely disappointing housing bill.     Once again this Government is demonstrating that housing is not a priority.      I forecast that property values will continue to rise and the current shortage of housing will sustain for a decade.

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5 Responses to Housing Delusion

  1. davidwfreeman237 says:

    We have at some time somewhere, before been through this revolving door? The answer to which, all of John’s points have relevance!
    I now wish to metaphorically ‘pee through the letter box?’ At 74 I have noted the alleged slum clearances of the late 50’s early 60’s and the rebuilding alleged to WWII damage. Then there was the court case of unscrupulous land lords, the name of which one ‘Rackman’ became a word for profiteering, and downright roguery/dishonesty. Then we had no land to develop and the high rise flats of the 70’s and the problems with communal services such as lifts/access etc. for the elderly and young families with prams etc.
    There is no one solution suites all, and it all depends on the aspirations of the general population to do and believe in being honest and hard working.
    If I have heard the clarion calls from the media correctly then some of the major house building conglomerates/companies together with alleged local/central government connivance hold land banks, awaiting for the correct political atmosphere and decisions to build more homes. (Private/social-council). John has suggested that the elderly now within the UK require to down size and that this type of property as desired is not readily available. There is a ‘RUB’ here the entrepreneur/developer is buying up cheaply from the elderly their ‘castles/forts and large houses, and converting them into flats 1 and 2 bedroom allegedly for the home starters and the elderly wishing to downsize, at a cost? What cost everyone is out for that ‘dollar’ more than the next person. We have had the studio flats in the late 90’s early 2000’s for the young and foot-free, but while they have made an investment how do they sell the studio flat, and who onto??
    John now respectfully suggests we build retirement flats for the elderly? Here in lies the conundrum, have the older generation thought deeply about what they may wish for? For instance at what age do they move- where do they move too-what happens if one partner dies, what is a suitable size to pass away ones golden years within, how do they pay for care or companionship if required at a later stage in life???
    WE as a nation are at a cross roads, and what does society demand of us? How do we survive in this world of ours? I personally believe it is family life and our children are important, and I would support consideration from the ‘Men women in grey’ in the government’s think tanks, to at least provide, shelter, employment, and security for the inhabitants of UK.plc. And the inspiration to achieve betterment in life, not demand it is all provided free, without any recompense to the society of UK.plc.
    I would however add a caveat that we all consider those less fortunate, and provide assistance to those less fortunate become once again become independent, and free standing within our society UK’plc.
    AS to housing we must not be blinkered by the elderly situation alone, we they have to consider where they wish to live out their old age, and the services they may require? It is no use complaining that they live remotely from family or services ( TV’s escape to the country or living abroad), with respect to healthcare, loneliness and mother tongue, and other convenience(maybe disadvantages) of a large conurbation
    Here ends the lesson

    • davidwfreeman237 says:

      i have replied please note

      • davidwfreeman237 says:

        Welsh wales
        I am 74 years of age, live with my wife in a Retirement Village, run and managed by the Extracare Charitable Trust Coventry, in north Buckinghamshire.
        I was answering a query on the John Graham Smiles and Grumbles web site on a housing post-posted on the 19 February 2017, and noted a comment by the expert housing group in wales, and an invitation to comment: as an Englishman I submit my comments below for consideration.
        Comments with respect to ‘Housing agenda for the aging population for Wales’.
        The 59 page? Document I have scan read but not studied in detail. I must applaud your committee for covering the scenario’s as I am aware of them.
        I cannot comment on the social conditions that prevail for the older generation in Wales, and the proportion of rural communities, dwellers, compared to general urban/town/city living.
        1 The major emphasis is being place on home care/dwelling, and the realisation that modifications for the elderly require:
        a. Health care (medical-support)?
        b. Access physically for standard wheel chairs/electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters to permit maximum mobility, inside the dwelling and to local services (shops/mobility buses/transport)
        c. Social support for or to permit normal living laundry and house cleaning excreta
        2 In the larger conurbations, as above for 1 (a-c), although I note a development of a larger community of elderly within Cardiff.
        3 Social loneliness
        One has in wales many complex housing arrangements, such as, freeholders/lease/shared/and social tenant’s, who have varying arguments and priorities in considering why they should move?
        As the authority and think tank, I respectfully suggest, that you have as a body the ability to suggest positive discussion points why the elderly should move/downsize, and release family sized homes for the younger generations with families. Here you have difficulties of perception, and that of demands by the various householders; this subject has to be treated with tact, and I suggest you approach the subject in the broadest possible sense, so that no one social group is in ascendance or control, and no social misfits and criminal groups behaviours are permitted with in the social group.
        What you may have to achieve for the majority, may not be agreeable to the minority.
        With these social groups should you formulate a desirable residence small or large, one has to consider gender and age profiles, and for instance in my retirement village the average age has gone from 72 to 79,and what we are healthy discussing with management is that we do not become:
        A a centre for alzhmiers/senile dementia
        B a death house for the living
        C That our villagers in the majority, remain independent living, and socially active in taking part in activities and social occasions
        D The original concepts for age profile (% of each age group), the social groups (leaseholders-shared and rented), and the percentage requiring support; all remain as envisaged.
        What has happened is the village since new 2007, we have grown together, and while we are centre of excellence for the elderly, we have to talk actively jointly with management as we are not an old persons rest/care or nursing, or a ‘Care Home’ under modern terminology.
        It is important is that this a village and our home for life, but with the percentages within acceptable limits of alzhmiers/senile dememnture, or death rates that do not invoke special measures from the authororirties.
        It is a tight rope and aspirations of the elderly must be encouraged to full fill an active life.
        Within your Welsh rural communities you may have to encourage work for the younger generations so that they can offer help to their aging family groups, in set localities.
        Regards David Freeman.

    • john graham says:

      Given my Welsh heritage that would be a pleasure Lorraine. I will look at the report this week and post my observations next weekend.

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