England Doesn’t Need 3 Million More Social Homes – It Might Need 3 Million More Houses Though

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A classic example of political logic today when we’re told that England needs 3 million more social housing units by 2040. This is not true, not true at all – although it might be true that England needs 3 million more housing units. The reason this is political logic is that they’re indulging in that classic progression, something must be done, this is something, so we must do this. When expressed in that manner we can all see what is wrong with the logical chain there. Even if it is true that something must be done it doesn’t therefore follow that this something is the correct thing to be doing.

With housing it’s really very simple indeed. Yes, housing is too expensive for some goodly portion of the population. Or at least reasonable accommodation in places people wish to live is. So, accepting that, we can indeed say that we therefore desire more decent housing in places people wish to live. This tells us nothing at all about whether that should be social housing of course but that’s the leap of faith being made:

England needs 3m new social homes by 2040, says cross-party report

Well, yes, cross-party. The soft left wing of the Tories agreeing with the soft left wing of Labour might cross party lines but it’s more of the usual frenzy of agreement among the social managerialists than a true crossing of ideological boundaries.

England must launch the biggest council and social house building drive in its history to rescue millions of people from a future in dangerous, overcrowded or unsuitable homes, a cross-party commission has told the government. More than 3m new social homes are needed in the next 20 years, more than were built in the two decades after the end of the second world war, according to a year-long housing commission launched in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster. Its commissioners include the former Conservative party chair, Sayeeda Warsi, the former Labour leader Ed Miliband and the former Conservative Treasury minister and Goldman Sachs chief economist Lord Jim O’Neill. The call represents a direct challenge to Tory ministers to dramatically increase social house building from its current level of just over 6,000 homes a year. The number of new homes proposed is equivalent to seven times more houses than there are are in Birmingham and 27 times more than in Milton Keynes.

So, accept that we want to have more houses so as to bring the price of housing down. What’s the best way of achieving this? It may well not be to get local councils to build millions more houses. We did try that solution and it didn’t seem to work all that well – we produced ghettos of those reliant upon the local council in fact. Great if you’re the person buying those votes, less good if you’re paying for them or suffering that housing.

There is another solution, simply relax the rules on who may build houses where and we’ll have more housing. Supply up and price goes down. Just the process of having more houses will make all housing more affordable. Yes, this is true even if only 3 million mansions are built. Those who move into them will be moving out of something else which increases supply – and reduces costs – for those lower down the income scale. And there’s nothing odd about living in a second hand house now, is there?

So, let’s blow up the Town and Country Planning Act 1947 and successors. For that is what prevents people from building nice houses where people would actually like to live. That will reduce house prices for all houses and our problem is solved. Those still on cripplingly low incomes can get housing benefit to aid them until they’re back on their feet.

It’s possible to insist that this won’t work because reasons. Except we do have direct empirical evidence that it does. For the last time the private housebuilding sector produced 300,000 houses a year – enough to give us that 3 million by 2040 and then some – was in the 1930s. When there was, broadly speaking, no national planning of housing. The astute will note this was before the 1947 act too. So, blow up the 1947 Act and return to those halcyon days of housebuilding where people want to live, in houses people want to live in. After all, those houses that were built then are those very semi-d’s in all those ribbon developments in the green belt that people pay £1 million and up for today.

That being the very reason for the passing of the Town and Country Planning Act of course, to stop people just living as and where they wished. Can’t have that in a properly managed Britain now, can we?

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TD
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TD

It is true that if the zoning laws are relaxed builders will build on their own dime, and likely buyers will buy their homes. However, from a progressive perspective that’s the problem. They don’t want people buying the homes they actually want to live in. Rather, they want them living in the homes progressives think they should live in – dinky little apartments stacked together near the tracks.

Matt Ryan
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Matt Ryan

‘Cos those area’s are environmentally friendly or because they are far from the nice area’s where the progressives live?

TD
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TD

Limiting the stock of desirable housing in an area of growing demand should increase current homeowners’ equity, so yeah, getting wealthier while wannabe’ homeowners into small apartments so as to save the planet ain’t a bad gig.

HJ777
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HJ777

There is another solution, simply relax the rules on who may build houses where and we’ll have more housing. Supply up and price goes down.

An even easier solution is to relax ridiculous building height restrictions. In the most desirable/expensive parts of the country (such as central London) it was the norm a century or so ago to build to 5 or 6 storeys.

By default, we should allow this now. Instantly, builders could build twice as much housing on the same land.

Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

Town houses were that tall because they needed somewhere to house all the servants. Most families don’t want to live running up and down stairs all day.

HJ777
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HJ777

Nonsense.

People currently don’t get the choice because of height restrictions. I am simply saying that they should have the choice (and the lower prices that the increase in supply would allow). If people don’t want this then the houses won’t sell and builders won’t build them higher, will they?

Chester Draws
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Chester Draws

You don’t need to have one house six stories tall. You can have three two-storey houses on top of each other.

ian parkinson
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ian parkinson

“commissioners include the former Conservative party chair, Sayeeda Warsi, the former Labour leader Ed Miliband and the former Conservative Treasury minister and Goldman Sachs chief economist Lord Jim O’Neill”

Was it Theresa May who diagnosed the conservative party problem as being nasty? Well, believing that and hiring cuddly idiots has got the UK to this point.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that she had been on holiday to China just before the swine flu epidemic.

Matt Ryan
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Matt Ryan

Christ, could anything produced by Baroness Warsi and Ed Milliband be taken seriously?

david
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david

When I heard Milipede on the radio this morning, the second and third things that occurred to me were:

2) The reason the UK built lots of houses immediately post war was that the Luftwaffe had demolished rather a lot of our pre-war houses.
3) There was a demobilising army (+ navy + air force) to be housed. If we were to stop importing a couple of demobilising armies – each year – we probably wouldn’t have such a housing shortage now.

The first thing I thought was:
1) Nooooooo. Not effing Milipede again.