'We can't build our way out of this': caller's stark assessment of UK housing crisis

6 September 2020, 15:30

By Seán Hickey

This caller insisted that the prevalence of 'shoebox' housing in the UK are a symptom of a housing crisis we are currently going through.

James has been in housing and regeneration for 35 years, and told Maajid Nawaz that the housing situation in the UK has proved to be a "very slow train wreck."

Reports of "cell" flats have become widespread on British High Streets, as developers look to regenerate old retail units into as many flats as possible, charging rents which, on a per-metre basis, are more expensive than renting in Islington.

The caller told Maajid that shoebox apartments "are merely a symptom of a lack of affordable housing, of overpriced market housing," adding that "what we really have now is our housing stock floating on a commodity market."

"Local authorities have been cut out - not only as a strategic enabler who decides how much housing and which type is needed, but it doesn't fund this housing," James added.

"We're building the smallest private homes in Europe."

Through all points he made, James told Maajid that "this all props up property and house prices," which is leading to the crisis of slum housing we see today.

Maajid prodded and asked the caller what he saw as the solution.

"We need to start selling council houses or giving them away," James insisted.

"We have to call a rent freeze in the private sector, we have to stop right to buy, and we then have to get on building social housing."