Today the average deposit on a home across the UK has reached £65,000. In London it is £100,000. We have reached the point in Britain where it is simply impossible for people to buy a home without significant help from their parents, grandparents or some other benefactor.Actually, that’s totally misleading – that statement should instead read “We have reached the point in Britain where it is often impossible for people to buy a home in the area they prefer to live and work without significant help from their parents, grandparents or some other benefactor.”
Liberal Democrats are therefore energetically exploring new ideas to increase access to housing. Nick Clegg's announcement on Sunday that we will work out how parents and grandparents can use other assets such as pension funds to help fund first purchases by their young people is hugely welcome.Really? It went down like a cold cup of sick, actually.
But we must also increase the supply.Ah, here we go. Building on the green belt, again? Well, yes. But there’s another angle:
Dealing with land banks by imposing use-it-or-lose-it planning permission, or the long-held Liberal policy of land value taxation, will free up land we need to build on. But I am clear that many of these measures to improve the supply of housing will be ineffective unless we also look at the demand created by second homes and the massive influx of foreign capital into the housing market.But we should turn a blind eye to the massive influx of foreigners, I assume?
In London, 60% of new housing last year was bought by foreign investors – a misallocation of an increasingly scarce resource on an unacceptable scale.Only a modern LibDem could possibly describe the buying and selling of private property a ‘misallocation’…
Local authorities should be able to introduce optional-use clauses to prevent housing from being bought unless it is going to be lived in.And how would that work? What defines ‘lived in’? For how long? I mean, never mind the illiberality of the idea, what about the logistics? But then, might as well go the whole
But no matter how much we improve access to home ownership there will always be some people for whom home ownership is just not appropriate, desirable or possible. Many will be in need of social housing: These people often make an extremely important contribution to our society. they may be in jobs that are essential but pay little, or they may be out of work for long periods because they are carers or sick or disabled. They should have as much opportunity as anyone else to live near to their employment, children's school, family and friends.And just how do you plan to give them that ‘opportunity’?
To achieve this every community needs a diverse mix of housing, principally planned to meet community need rather than simply market demand.Ahhh, central planning for people’s lives! What could be less liberal?
That is why Liberal Democrats across the country should oppose those councils, such as Southwark, who sell their more valuable housing in order to fund the building of new council housing somewhere else. Such a policy will create ghettos. In London it would gradually wipe out social housing from large parts of our capital city and create unacceptable physical divisions in our community.So, to prevent this awful situation of people being free to live wherever they want and can afford, we will take away that choice.
You’ll live where we tell you to, or else!
Just what is Hughes smoking these days?