Friday, 8 February 2013
Home loan boom fails to lift ownership
Failure. Or lack of housing policy? While the world acclaims the Nordic Folkhemmet for its merits to offer high standard affordable homes for most of the citizens (even if it moved away from the leftist approach of the 70's) Britain is a case study in the other direction.
British politicians of all political colors have bowed to the pressure from privileged groups and allowed through irresponsible planning legislation, hapless infrastructure strategies and preferential investment models, all nicely sold to the public as "free market orientation", to strangulate the housing market and to drastically lower the standards of living.
The mortgage lenders, land owners and estate agents benefited nicely, along with some private landlords. The tenants were forced to accept ever rising rents and live in places that too often cannot be called a home. The statistics fail to look at price per sqm and even if these are among the highest in the civilized world, the quality of accommodation is depressing.
The government should redevelop large swathes of the most densley polulated cities against nymbist protests, build new residential complexes following Scandinavian architectural models and impose housing standards. It is beyond belief that the "supply and demand" forces people to live below the pavement line or in "conversions" where a bathroom is squeezed in a former closet or bedrooms are set in "rooms" measuring less than 5sqm.
Why is it OK to build a 6 storey residential building if each flat fetches £ millions but it would destroy the borough's character if it were priced at £250,000?
Old and obsolete parts of London should be forced through property tax to modernize and increase accomodation capacity thus releasing pressure from expanding sprawling and unaffordable infrastructure, and increasing supply of homes. New built homes should raise the standards so that existing landlords would need to improve the buy-to-let properties or find a less speculative source of income.
Ultimately it doesn't matter if people own or rent where they live, as long as they have enough space, at good standards and they do not to spend all their disposable income on paying for it. If in addition to that they afford going to work, and this does not take 2h each way in humiliating conditions, even better.
The next task is to ensure people do not pay whatever they are left for their children's care and education, but that would mean to improve the social mobility in Britain, and this seems to be unacceptable to governments.