We need houses but not round this way
19 November 2017, 01:09
The Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, who is in charge of housing policy, attacked the over-60s for the chronic housing shortage.
It is the NIMBY problem – not in my back yard, not in my village, not in my town and definitely nowhere near me, we're full up.
He said older people had 'no understanding' of the problems and were 'living in a different world'.
And they are. They are living in the good old days, a world of houses so cheap they were giving them away free with ten gallons of petrol.
When a house had room to move about in and actually came with cupboards.
When a person would retire at 55 and still earn as much as they brought in before they got the gold watch.
In the modern world, houses are as out of reach as the moon and young people will not retire at all.
The young seem to have been screwed over by the generation we call the Baby Boomers, those people born after the Second World War and before the Beatles took off.
They grew up in a place that was less dirty, less full, less unequal and less expensive. The changes that have occurred since then were caused in great part by that older generation and are unduly affecting the younger generations.
Sajid Javid said it was time to deliver 'moral justice' for the young.
Part of that plan is to stop older people standing in the way of a massive house building drive.
That sound you hear is older people getting ready to dig their heels in.
Mr Javid said that he still hears from those who say that there isn't a problem with housing, that affordability is only a problem for millennials that “spend too much on nights out and smashed avocados.”
The NIMBYs say that if they just cut down on their avocado habit, they'd bound to be able to afford a house.
Theresa May has echoed some of Sajid's thoughts.
She has promised to fix what she called “the broken housing market”
She can put that on the list of broken things that need mending, starting with her own party.
The problem has been caused by short-termism, as you would expect. Successive governments have ignored the issue, hoping that it will go away.
In some years since World War II, while Germany has been steadily building 250,000 homes a year, we have managed just 5,000.
There has been some movement on the issue. The number of new homes in England rose by nearly 220,000 last year.
In London 40,000 new homes came to market. Unfortunately, they came to market in Malaysia, Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia.
You may have seen the forest of cranes on London's skyline that have been putting up those 40,000 new homes. They are almost all executive flatlets in towers, priced at a million pounds for a studio and sold off plan to foreigners who are diversifying their assets and have no intention of living in them.
Why would they? If you had a million pounds to spend on somewhere to live, would you choose to reside in a tiny flat with nowhere to put your stuff, with a living room the size of a kitchen that has a kitchen in it?
The towers that have ruined the look of London are not for Londoners. They have not addressed the problem of a housing shortage, they have addressed the problem of where the rich can park their money in a safe asset.
The average age of a first-time buyer in this country is now 32. This should worry the Tories.
Middle aged people with no houses to protect and no pensions to rely on are unlikely to stop their youthful dalliance with Labour and start voting Conservative.
If you don't have anything, you don't need to vote for the party that will most likely allow you to keep it.
Unfortunately, there is no magic money tree for the building of truly affordable homes and council houses.
If only homes could vote in the Commons, there would be. If the DUP's experience is anything to go by, the going rate is £1bn per ten votes.
That would be enough to build some pretty exciting starter homes.
They might even come with cupboards.