The abject failure of housing policy is among the biggest challenges facing this country yet it barely gets a mention on the hustings or in any political debate.
(Anthony Hilton, Evening Standard, 28/05/13)
There was a time when the stance taken by the major political parties on housing issues was a key General Election battleground. But that was half a century ago. With high costs and insecurity pervasive, the UK housing market is evidently very sick at the moment. This has significant short- and long-term consequences for the broader macroeconomy and significant impacts on households’ well-being. Yet, housing policy has so far failed to gain real political traction.
When the Government does propose to intervene on a substantial scale – in the form of Help to Buy – the policy is all about political calculation and very little about doing what needs doing to get the housing system into better shape. Indeed, beyond the Treasury and the industry interest groups that stand to benefit directly from the policy, commentators across the spectrum – including the IMF and the OECD – display near unity in condemning the policy as extremely unwise. I have had words about Help to Buy on a couple of previous occasions (here and here). Continue Reading →