Supply & Demand

The Problem

The Office for National Statistics reported that the last recorded annual net migration figures for the year ended March 2016 was 330,000, the highest ever on record.

This completely smashed the Conservative party’s 2010 pre-election pledge of reducing the level of net migration “to the tens of thousands”.

If we look at house building figures since the 2nd world war we can see that over the last few decades it has been rapidly declining.

Click on this link to see for yourself

Decades of decline in house building combined with rapid population growth has caused a severe housing supply shortage in this country.

The Conservative government claimed before the 2015 election to have “got Britain building again”. Is this true. Let’s look at the facts.

The Conservative led coalition built less new homes than any other Government since the 2nd world war.

In the 60 years between 1949 and 2009 the number of new homes built in the UK never dropped below 150,000. Not once.

But since the Conservatives came to power in 2010 the number of new homes built hasn’t gone over 150,000 a year. Not once.

So to me it looks like their pre 2015 election claim “to have got Britain building again” was very suspect. It seems like they’ve got away with pulling the wool over the eyes of the public

If you want to look at dispassionate statistics to draw your own conclusion then please look at the Office for National Statistics website; I’ll put the link for house building below.

The Conservatives now have a majority and they have repeatedly promised that in this Parliament the government would aim to build a million homes, 200,000 a year.

This is still far short of the amount that most academics state is needed to make up for the historic shortfall, in addition to our rapidly increasing population. However it’s a good start and we must hold the Government to account by looking at these statistics on house building and ensuring that the Conservatives start sticking to their promises. If the Conservative party fail to deliver once again, it’s not just our generation that will be unable to access a decent home but future generations too.

I do hope that the Conservatives genuinely intend to keep their promise this time.

From the above picture we can also see that the greatest house building boom was when the public sector worked alongside the private sector. The Conservative Party believes that it is purely the private sector that can provide the new homes necessary for our young people.

However leaving house building to an unregulated private sector has clearly not worked. Why?

Clearly it’s in the interests of housing developers to release houses slowly over a long period of time to keep supply short of demand to maximise profit for their shareholders. This is naturally the primary motive of a private company.

This is precisely why in times of a crisis the Government has to step in and enact legislation to ensure that enough housing is built at a rate to house its citizens in a reasonable manner.

It’s clear now to me that legislation needs to be brought in to tackle the land banking issue where private developers own planning permission approved land and leave it empty for years on end .

There are numerous examples of wasted empty brownfield land waiting for houses to be built on, just walk around with your eyes open. The shameful fact is that many of it has had planning permission for years and is just sat on by private property speculators who then sell it onto another company to add to their portfolio. For example this site in central Manchester.

And why is it taking 18 years to build the 10,000 homes on the Olympic Park?

8 years ago planning permission was given for 10,800 homes in Barking Riverside so why has only 350 homes been built so far?

The Solution

Clearly the Conservatives need to increase their appalling record of being the Government with the lowest levels of house building on record. We must make sure they build at least 200,000 homes a year as promised by various MPs in their Cabinet.

If the Conservatives wish to ignore the public sector and let the private sector do all of our house building then they must legislate better and ensure that planning permission approved brownfield land has housing built on it in a reasonable time frame otherwise the land is handed over to someone else who will build the homes we desperately need.

Build high density housing adjacent to rail stations (rail, tube, tram etc.) so residents have an added transport option, offering greater employment opportunities, shorter commuting times, better access to leisure activities and making it easier to visit friends. Eases pressure on our roads and helps the environment. Limits the amount of new estates being built far away from transport hubs and high streets.

Build flats with separate sleeping and living areas and less bedsits (aka studios and suites). The UK has on average the smallest homes in Europe and many developers are building too many bedsits. Who really, out of choice, wants to be crammed into a tiny little hovel?

By increasing the size of our new housing stock we can hopefully get rid of this shameful record of Europe’s smallest homes and ensure that families have the space to live with dignity.

As discussed before by using our existing stock more effectively by taxing empty homes at a higher rate, ending the Buy to Leave scandal and prioritising the 11 Million UK Private Renters over the Buy to Let investors we can reduce the demand for new starter homes.

This of course will help protect our countryside, including the greenbelt.

The Benefits

Millions of adults still stuck at home living with their parents can one day hope of having a home of their own.

Children, once grown up, will also have a fighting chance of one day owning a home of their own.

The 12 Million Private Renters and millions stuck in house shares can too one day maybe own a home of their own.

The millions of children currently living in chronically overcrowded homes can have some space to breathe.

Policy of Political Parties

The Labour party prior to the 2020 election promised to get house building up to 200,000 homes a year and the Conservatives have since promised to build 1 million homes over the course of this parliament (200,000 homes a year each year).

However the Labour party produced more details of how this would happen, for example “unblock the supply of new homes by giving local authorities “use it or lose it” powers over developers who hoard land that has planning permission so that they can sell it on for a bigger profit, instead of building on it now.”

The Conservatives have yet to spell out how they will tackle the land banking problem

Action we can take

We must hold the Conservative party to account to ensure that they stick to their promises for once and build at least 200,000 homes a year.

If you MP is Conservative please ask them if it is acceptable that the Coalition built less new homes than any government since the 2nd world war?

If this time they will stick to their promise of building 1 million new homes over the course of this parliament?

Also ask the Tories if they will tackle land banking of planning permission approved brownfield land to help protect our Greenbelt?

Is it the lobbying of the large house building companies who are making huge profits that are preventing them from making policy progress?

And as discussed before ask if the Conservatives will use our existing stock more effectively by taxing empty homes at a higher rate, end the Buy to Leave scandal and prioritise the 11 Million UK Private Renters over the Buy to Let investors, again protecting our Greenbelt?

If your MP is from another party then please email them and ask them to challenge Tory policy in Parliament.

Philip Hammond, the Chancellor and Gavin Barwell, the Housing Minister are the two people with potentially the most power to change current government policy.

So regardless of who is your MP please email them to ask how they will tackle the land banking of the major house builders to ensure that these 1 million new homes get built over the course of this Parliament