Consider the facts:
– in every village and town throughout the UK, there are empty homes either to let or to sell. Local agents who know their patch will tell you that the market is still depressed, and that there is invariably more stock on offer than purchasers to buy it.
– the more honest lettings agents and landlords will also tell you that voids of 6 weeks plus between lets are the norm, and 3 months is not uncommon. There is certainly no queue to rent property in most areas.
– the argument in favour of building more homes is based on a "housing shortage" or "housing crisis" – but the figures for social housing demand used to substantiate these claims are innnacurate and misleading: they count waiting lists for council/social housing, while blissfully ignoring the fact that these people are usually already living in private accommodation, paid for by housing benefit: in other words, they simply want to change the type and source of their housing, and in the process are double-counted
– the immigration boom is over (thank God). The rate of ingress has fallen, while thousands of economic migrants from the EU accession states have now gone home as the environment here is no longer as attractive.
– housebuilders themselves are a major cause of the shortage of affordable housing. They snap up plots of land, overcome local planning resistance by "bunging" local councils’ funds, build sub-standard units that will last no more than 50 years, create modern ghettos by cramming the maximum number of houses or flats into the smallest possible plots, then sell at sky-high prices to people intoxicated by the smell of new paint, by offering all manner of incentives. This policy is aimed more at the buy-to-let sector than the first-time buyer. And anyone who regards such buildings as investments, very soon realises the truth when they come to sell again, and have to take a loss.
– the environment cannot take much more. In the south, our roads are overcrowded, our public transport is overloaded, our water and drainage systems cannot cope, and there is a shortage of school places in many areas. Yet, in the north, whole streets of houses stand empty, fast falling to dereliction and vandalism. Our green spaces are being stolen, and the character and amenity of our towns and villages is being destroyed.
– Housebuilding does not make the major contribution to our economy that housebuilders claim. In fact, its activities are quite damaging, as many workers are low-paid, unskilled migrants who themselves are a drain on our finances as they need to top up their low earnings with benfits and social housing. Other, more skilled, workers could be more usefully employed either maintaining or refurbishing existing stock, or helping to bring back into use the 600,000 empty housing units already in the UK (have you ever tried to find a builder, plummer or electrician who could do a job in less than a month?).
This insanity has to stop before we create yet another housing bubble. If you want to see the long-term effects of giving housebuilders all their own way, just take a look at what they have done to the Irish, US and Spanish markets . . . in all of which the market has been brought crashing down by the number of empty units for which there are no takers.
Unless we want a US, Irish or Spanish-style housing crash that will last for decades and reduce our whole economy to rubble, it’s time to start ignoring the constant whining of housebuilders and their lackey quangoes like the NHF, and base future housebuilding on careful measurement of REAL demand.
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