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We’re all going to dismiss this latest report from the homelessness mongers as being silly, idiocy even. Which is something that we shouldn’t do, not without examining it a little further. After we’ve done so we can revert back to calling it idiocy of course. Because they’ve entirely and totally missed the effects of their own recommended policy solution. That’s not a good look for people who think of themselves as think tanks really.

BRITAIN now has four million too few homes as the chronic housing crisis continues to spiral.

The shock figure has been calculated by totting up how many across the nation’s growing population are still in dire need of a place of their own to live.

One answer there might be to import fewer people into a country requiring so many further houses. But that’s waacism these days so we’ll not use that argument. Or maybe it’s xenophobia, gammonism or logic but whatever, we’re not allowed to say it, are we?

The estimate, calculated for the National Housing Federation and the charity Crisis, accounts for homeless people, the ‘boomerang’ generation still living with parents, couples who would otherwise have separated and people in flatshares who would have moved out.

That’s a fairly expansive definition of who needs a new house. And given that there are only some few thousand actually sleeping rough it’s a bad one too. For what is really being said is that there are plenty of bedrooms out there, they’re just not correctly distributed. We want more bedrooms in smaller properties, fewer in larger. So that households that are smaller these days by number of people can have properties appropriate to the size of said household.

Hmm, hasn’t the government tried to do something about this? Not paying housing benefit for more bedrooms than a household can usefully use? I’m sure I do recall something about this….ah, yes, the bedroom tax. Roundly slammed as it was by all the people lauding this report.

Major homelessness charities are now calling on the government to use its upcoming social housing green paper to urgently redress the shocking shortfall in affordable housing, by committing to funding new homes and overhauling the way it sells land.

Oh gosh, so the call is that they get to determine how more of other peoples’ money gets spent. Now that is a surprise, isn’t it?

None of the above does in fact push this report into idiocy territory. We’ve just the standard special interest group dodging of logic to insist they they get more of ours, that’s all. This is how politics works these days. It’s this next bit that pushes it over into gibberish:

It said 145,000 of these 340,000 homes should be affordable homes. Of the 145,000 affordable homes, 90,000 should be for social rent, 30,000 should be for intermediate affordable rent and 25,000 should be for shared ownership.

That’s the damn stupidity.

Back up a minute and think from the top. Britain does have fewer houses than we might think desirable. That’s why they’re so damn expensive – you recall that first page or two of the economics book, the supply and demand curves?

Good, so, we’ve a number of – not very effective but they exist to try to deal with the problem – schemes that try to help poorer people afford this more expensive housing. “Affordable,” social rent, shared ownership, we could go on into housing benefit and the like. They’re all schemes to make sure that poor people can afford this expensive stuff.

We now solve that scarcity problem by building those 4 million extra dwellings. Great. So, we’ve no more housing shortage. By very definition these plans will mean a house, of the right shape and size, in the right place, for everyone. What does that do to the scarcity value of housing?

Quite right, building 4 million more houses lowers the cost of housing for everyone. A jolly good idea it is too. But once we’ve lowered everyone’s housing costs, abolished the scarcity premium, then why do we need policies to deal with the expense of the scarcity premium? Well, yes, it is a bit odd to be planning to deal with something you’ve just abolished, isn’t it?

In fact, it’s more than a bit odd and it is what pushes this up into the idiot plan of the day. For it’s idiocy. Exactly this plan means that we don’t then need to have special plans to make housing more affordable, do we?


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Planners and politicians understand full well that such subsidized, deed restricted housing will only ever be built in small quantities – although to great fanfare and ribbon cutting ceremonies. Likely their own community’s general plans will note that lack of monies available for the subsidies. However, the planners and local pols also often own homes and understand that they are likely to continue to benefit greatly from increasing home values.

Hallowed Be
Hallowed Be

good nominative determinism there: James Brockenshire is the minister for housing.

Rhoda Klapp
Rhoda Klapp

By all means let’s debate this without using the i word. This is another premise I can’t accept. There is no mileage at all in this practice which is so frequently followed here. It’s a waste of our time.


Yes, let’s build 4 million more homes. Then give them away, partly or fully, and the result will be more homelessness, just as sure as a traffic jam on a newly opened motorway. All the while we keep foremost in mind the “homeless,” a term by which we emote about results and avoid discussion of causes. “Eloise” is described in a nearby post as dissatisfied with her living conditions, but she took steps to not be “homeless.” Rhoda: What i word? “Immigration?” Immigrants take bedrooms, but so do tourists, and we ought not rule on either based on what we… Read more »


PS — Seattle has passed that head tax “for the homeless.” It almost halved it before enacting it, and Amazon relented on its announced cancellation of a high-rise office building, but activists in the Council chamber chanted, “We’ll be back for more,” and when they do, the Council will be receptive.

The biggest irony, or enormity, is that affordable housing was being provided in Seattle, by private companies building dormitory-style housing with shared living spaces — until Seattle killed the trend through changes to the housing code:


In the early 2000s I was a board member of a housing association. The government bribed us to get rid of our bedsits and one-bed flats, we used the bribe money to knock flats together to make two-bed flats and into houses. Then, the government turned the tables and started punishing tenants who occupied properties larger than bedsits and one-bed flats – the very thing that didn’t exist any more due to the government bribing us to get rid of them.