Homeless?

 

I have been asked to write about homelessness in the run up to Christmas. It goes to the heart of the all consuming and worrying issue of poverty. It is not just a property problem.

Some think the issue is that homes are too dear in the UK.  In parts of the country, especially London, they are very dear, but there is plenty of demand for these expensive homes. Many of  the dearest ones now are there for rich foreign migrants into London, but much of the rest of the housing stock in the prosperous areas  stays at high price levels because there are tax paying locals  who can afford it.

In other parts of the country home prices  are much lower, and have fallen further since the Credit Crunch. Here there are often more empty properties, and more propeties on agents books awaiting buyers. Lower prices would eventually clear this market. Current prices can be sustained if more jobs and higher incomes can be generated in these locations to underwrite and sustain the property market. Policies for economic recovery and for growth outside London are part of the answer.

The government is trying to address the issue of expensive land prices that are part of the pricing in the dear areas. They are issuing a large number of new planning permissions which they hope will drive the land prices down, and lead to more development. So far this has been offset by broken banks and regulatory pressures against more lending. The authorities have also come up with Funding for lending and Quantitative Easing to try to tackle the mortgage famine.

One way to cut homelessness is to reduce inward migration. Migration has been one of the big pressures on housing, and some of the worst housed people are recent arrivals on low wages, and especially illegals on no regular and legal  wages.

Some homeless come from former members of our armed forces who find adjustment to civilian life difficult. I have proposed a scheme to encourage housebuying for people in the forces so they are not homeless on exit. When I checked last week the government told me they were  still working on this important issue and recognise the need to do more.

Some homeless have serious drug or alcohol problems. The government is intensifying its response to these difficulties, seeking to get people onto rehabilitation programmes.

There is a general shift to buying your first home at an older age. Most young people are not homeless, but they form their own household at an older age than previous generations. This is partially owing to high house prices compared to their starter incomes.  Here improving the supply of new properties, and reducing the demand from others  in sensbile ways may bring about a price adjustment to price more young people into this market. I am a strong supporter of home ownership. I also think young people should have the option of forming their own household in their twenties and buying a property where they have a normal job. More needs to be done to get back to this position.

 

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181 Comments

  1. Brian Taylor
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    Because of poor returns on money invested some are buying houses and renting to get a better return on there money,some of those renters are paying more in rent than they would for a mortgage if they could save or get help with a decent deposit.
    How is the scheme on new houses working out when the gov.and new house builders help with those deposit,s.

    • lifelogic
      Posted December 15, 2012 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

      Landlords pay a lot more for mortgage finance on let property than one does on owner occupied property. Also rent includes letting agents costs, maintenance, safety certificates, insurance and vacancies. So yes it can be more expensive than buying in the long term but there is usually no long term commitment from the tenant either. Landlord do not usually make money when property prices are stagnant and reducing.

      The government need to sort out the banks so they can lend again and cut the state sector so the private one can compete again and generate jobs that can support mortgages.

      • Jerry
        Posted December 15, 2012 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

        @Lifelogic: The country needs more HOME OWNERS [1], not more “Rupert Rigsby’s”, I know of whole streets that have become run down simply because most of the properties have been bought up by the buy-to-let sector and thus tenants have little incentive to maintain the associated areas.

        Also what jobs are generated by the private renting sector, apart from jobbing builders and a few specialist property agencies – that would otherwise be Estate Agencies, if they do not already do both.

        [1] or long term rented homes that, via their assured tenancy, the tenant can call it both home and take a pride in were they live

        • lifelogic
          Posted December 17, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

          Well yes and no. If you know that you will be living in an area for a long time you are probably better buying – if not you might well be better renting.

          Especially with high stamp duty, legal and agents cost and an illiquid market there is probably not much point in buying for less than say 5 years.

          We should have a level playing field between renting and buying – it used to be better to buy (with mortgage interest relief and only 1% maximum stamp duty). Now under socialist Osborne stamp duty is up to an absurd 15%. Also if you lose your job you get more help with rents than you do with a mortgage. Further more with such a huge parasitic state sector there are few safe jobs around so getting a mortgage without a big deposit is rather hard. We even have Labour to look forwards to in 2015, thanks to Mr Cameron’s incompetence (John Major II but without the excuse of vacuity).

          Did Cameron learn nothing from Major’s government and watching Lamont and the ERM fiasco?

          • Bazman
            Posted December 21, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

            The safe jobs have gone also because of the ‘flexibility’ you so desire in the private sector. Less ‘proper’ jobs so less chance of a mortgage or getting a deposit together. Not everyone can own their own cleaning business, some have to do the cleaning. Self employed is not your own business. If it was you would be able to invoice your ‘customer’ for everything. What about the homeowner without a mortgage? He gets no soup. Though technically he is his own landlord.

  2. Tom Moore
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    Where is a married family person from (say) Newcastle-upon-Tyne supposed to live in order to work as (say) a London bus driver?

    Is not the truth that Conservative policies, despite the rhetoric, favour single immigrants to London, at the expense of native British families?

    • zorro
      Posted December 15, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

      Big business loves a single immigrant worker particularly if he/she comes from a poorer country. Business knows that they will be able to work for less money than resident workers who have to keep a family in the UK, whereas it is a lot cheaper to look after the family of the immigrant worker in their home country……It is the natural consequence of untrammelled globalisation – a massive increase in the power of big business (1%) and a levelling of standards amongst the 99% of others……

      zorro

    • lifelogic
      Posted December 15, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

      Indeed clearly a single person has lower overheads, lower housing needs and can afford to work for less. Such is life.

      • alan jutson
        Posted December 16, 2012 at 9:11 am | Permalink

        Lifelogic
        How can a single person have lower overheads than a family pro rata.

        Heating same cost for one as for many.
        Rent same cost for one as for many.
        Council tax only a 25% reduction for a single person.
        Food, bulk purchase is less expensive.
        One income not two to share the costs.

        The only solution:
        Mass occupation of a property, or deliberate overcrowding which is very often the case with immigrant workers whose families still live abroad.

        • lifelogic
          Posted December 17, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

          Clearly a studio flat is cheaper than a four bed house!

          • Jerry
            Posted December 17, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

            Oh right so now Lifelogic is being the socialist, all single people will/should have to live in a studio flat (like he does?)!

          • lifelogic
            Posted December 18, 2012 at 7:03 am | Permalink

            They can live where they like, so long as they pay for it, as far as I am concerned. I merely make the point that a single person can afford to work for less yet still make ends meet and indeed childless couples.

          • Jerry
            Posted December 18, 2012 at 11:11 am | Permalink

            @Lifelogic: “a single person can afford to work for less yet still make ends meet and indeed childless couples

            Whilst that reply contains even more assumptions than your comment about studio flats! :(

        • John Doran
          Posted December 19, 2012 at 9:12 am | Permalink

          A contracts manager I know works on a firm employing 400 guys.
          Of these 300 are Polish, great employees. They arrive on time, do their work, tidy up & go home. Any stroppy ones amongst them tend to get sorted by their comrades.

          Here’s the rub: they live 10 to a house, virtually camping, & send a huge proportion of their wages back to Poland, benefiting this country not a lot. We are also paying child benefit for their children back in Poland.

          I’ve nothing against these guys, you can have a drink & a laugh with them. My sons are tradesmen trying to bring up families, & I watch helpless as they slide into debt, while we enrich other countries, & import endless cheap labour.

          Cameron promised to tackle this issue but has done nothing.

          We are on course to impoverish & bankrupt this nation.

      • Bazman
        Posted December 21, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

        Might be able to live for less as a single person in a bedsit, but not your less, which is nothing and pass on those savings to his employer. As a landlord you know the cheapest bedsit including bills would be at least £80 a week. At least.

        https://lha-direct.voa.gov.uk/Secure/BedroomCalculator.aspx

        It would be difficult to live on less than £3 a day food. Maybe you could explain how anyone in the country could exist on less than £450 a month even as a single person without relying on family or multi-occupancy of the same room? No minimum wage? Not real is it fantasists?

    • libertarian
      Posted December 15, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Permalink
      • zorro
        Posted December 16, 2012 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

        What do you think the annual salary will be for that job?

        zorro

        • Bazman
          Posted December 22, 2012 at 9:14 am | Permalink

          Not enough for an 80k mortgage that’s for sure.

  3. Steve Smith
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    I’m pleased to see you taking on such an important subject. Please do not let the enormatiy of the situation deter you from action.
    “The man who moves a mountain, starts by picking up a few pebbles”

    If you need any help you may contact me.

    Steve

    • lifelogic
      Posted December 18, 2012 at 7:06 am | Permalink

      “The man who moves a mountain, starts by picking up a few pebbles” alas he dies before he is finished.

      Often best just to live with the mountain or at least start by buying some serious machinery.

  4. Mike Stallard
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    In Singapore there are regular advertisements for houses in London. A sound investment. And these are in areas which are very upmarket. It is seen as a very good way of saving and the property prices in Singapore are very much the same as London.

    Ex servicemen, surely, need communal living? Couldn’t the army do something like that? With uniforms too? (Think Chelsea Pensioners – but modern).

    Most people assume that in our Fenland town all – yes all – the effective work with homeless and unwanted dirty people is done by the government. Lots of offices with smart plastic signs, lots of social outreach workers and lots of Carers. (The Police are, actually, pretty useless.)

    Actually we have an extremely effective night shelter which demands good behaviour, a day centre which provides dignified and filling free food and a lot of help, especially to immigrants. We also have a group who go out of their way to welcome criminals, soldiers, poor, the elderly and so on as people instead of as problems. I refer to the King’s Church, the Catholic Church and the Baptist Church.

    But that is unmentionable isn’t it.

  5. Adam5x5
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    There is a general shift to buying your first home at an older age. Most young people are not homeless, but they form their own household at an older age than previous generations.

    As you say, this is partially down to high house prices. It is also down to an unwillingness of the banks to lend money – which in turn is due to the regulators requiring a bigger balance sheet for more stable banks, they also require banks to lend more which is contradictory.
    A side effect of this unwillingness to lend is the older generation find it easier to borrow than those in their twenties as they have more saved and other property to secure it on. This further drives up house prices as people buy-to-let as an investment.

    A recent report by the Institute for Public Policy Research (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2246106/Generation-Rent-stake-community-housing-market-means-frozen-out.html) shows that community spirit suffers when you don’t own a stake in the area. Why would you bother investing effort in an area if you’re going to move in the near future?

    So what can be done and what, if anything, should be done?
    Free up the planning system. It currently takes a long time to get planning permission for any substantial housing developments. Free the process up and allow more houses to be built.

    • uanime5
      Posted December 15, 2012 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

      If the planning system is more free how will you ensure they build affordable housing, rather than expensive properties for wealthy foreigners? After all the latter is much more profitable.

      • Bob
        Posted December 15, 2012 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

        @uanime5

        Why do you use the term “affordable”?
        Affordable by who? Alan Sugar, Richard Branson, Roman Abramovich or Ed Miliband?

        • uanime5
          Posted December 16, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

          Based on my comments it’s possible to determine that affordable does not include houses that only the wealthy can afford.

          • Bob
            Posted December 16, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

            @uanime5

            So why don’t you say “cheap” then?

      • Adam5x5
        Posted December 16, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

        The market forces (and current regulations) will mean that houses will span the range of affordability.

        The wealthy houses for foreigners are mainly concentrated in London. Outside of this houses would have to be built and sold according to what the market prices are in the area.

        No point just building ridiculously expensive properties all over if the market can’t support them. Otherwise you just have to drop the price and sell them at a loss.

        • Mark
          Posted December 17, 2012 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

          There’s also no point in building slums of the future that o-one wants to live in. They are very poor value, because they will end up being demolished after just a few years.

    • libertarian
      Posted December 15, 2012 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

      I’m not convinced building more houses is the answer, I agree totally with the first part of your analysis however you’ve overlooked a couple of major things. Most people now start work upto 10 years later than in previous generations AND a large number of them have serious debts to pay off re their education. Politicians obsession with universities is a problem. I started work aged 14/15 and had saved enough for a small deposit by the time I was 25. My son didn’t start his first job until age 26 after leaving Uni. He will be approaching 40 before he has had same amount of time to save and pay down his uni loans

      • Adam5x5
        Posted December 16, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

        Agreed, being saddled with large debts upon leaving university is not helpful.

        Easier lending by the banks would help – but it does need to be affordable for repayment i.e. a ‘good’ debt.

  6. Daniel Hewson
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    What we need is land value tax instead of council tax, it would encourage better & more profitable use of land& development in cheaper areas, plus it would raise money from rich land owners.

    • alan jutson
      Posted December 15, 2012 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      Daniel

      So who would end up paying this tax in the end?

      As with any tax it is the end user, or House purchasers in this case, who already pay stamp duty at the highest rate on the total value, every time they move.

      • Daniel Hewson
        Posted December 15, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

        The wealthiest landowners would pay the tax, I’d roll national insurance & income tax together & have it 30% on all income above 12,000, I’d cut inheritance tax to 10% on inheritances over 1 million & I’d bring in higher higher council tax bands or scrap council tax altogether in favour of 0.75 flat property tax or land value tax, these are the radical solutions to tax the richest yet encourage entrepreneurs.

        • alan jutson
          Posted December 16, 2012 at 9:14 am | Permalink

          Danial

          So not just a simple land tax then .

          You like many of us would like to change the complete taxation system, and with that I would agree, although we all have differing views on how best that should be done.

      • StevenL
        Posted December 15, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

        Yes, the end user, the consumer of the location, the same person who pays the rent / mortgage interest now. So instead of paying rent to Lord Grosvenor and the banks, the rent would be collected by government, eliminating the need to tax labour and capital.

    • David John Wilson
      Posted December 15, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      The last thing this country needs is the red tape of yet another tax, land value tax, and all the costs of introducing it.

      The extra costs of introducing two extra higher bands of council tax are relatively low and would put pressure where it is needed.

      • Daniel Hewson
        Posted December 16, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

        I agree, higher tax bands should be added, but John won’t agree even to doing a deal with the lib dems for higher council tax bands in exchange for a cut in income tax, a common sense move I would have thought.

  7. Daniel Hewson
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    QE should be given to the people to pay down their debts, banks would have plenty of more money to lend if QE money was given to people to pay off their mortgages.

    • Mark
      Posted December 15, 2012 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      Why should those who borrowed too much be given money? They’re already being heavily subsidised by artificially low interest rates, forbearance and cross subsidy from expensive banking terms imposed on other bank customers.

      Instead we should be grasping the nettle, and asking these people to live within their means without subsidy, and to bear the consequence of the decisions they took.

      • Daniel Hewson
        Posted December 16, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

        Why should it be given to the banks who lent so much? Both are guilty but I’d rather bail out people than banks.

        • Mark
          Posted December 18, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

          The banks are merely a conduit for the subsidies given to the over-borrowed. Neither deserve them.

      • Iain Gill
        Posted December 16, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

        yes yes yes

        on the other hand the masses of single men sofa surfing between friends houses or ending up on the streets needs sorting, stereotyping them all as drug adicts and so on misunderstands the problem

  8. alan jutson
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    John, all of your reasons for homelessness are true, but their are other reasons as well.

    We have a shortage of housing, you only has to do the mathematics as to how many more people live in the country now, compared to a couple of decades ago, verses how much our housing stock has grown in the same period, to see that this is the case.

    We simply need to either reduce our population, or increase house building to redress this, and given that we are one of the most densly populated countries on this planet (per square mile) the conclusion is not difficult to reach.

    In addition we have protected no go building areas, of green belt, of outstanding natural beauty, of conservation, national parks, regional parks etc where building, quite rightly is controlled.

    Statistics suggest that more people now live in a home on ther own than in the past, that divorce is growing amongst the more mature couples, all this puts pressure and more demand on housing.

    But the overwhelming reason for homelessness must surely be family break up.

    For whatever reason, a family which can/could cope financially when together, simply find that they cannot afford to do so when apart, when costs increase dramatically.

    The reasons for family break up are many, some are complex, and many are simple, but perhaps too many people now have/hold an unrealistic view on what family life and real commitment and responsibility is all about.

    • Mark
      Posted December 15, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

      There is no shortage of housing overall. The official population plus unmeasured illegal immigrants is unlikely to exceed 75 million, and there are about 26 million dwellings, so that is fewer than three per dwelling on average.

      What we have are allocation problems due to a series of market distortions.

      • stred
        Posted December 15, 2012 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

        It seems that some of the market distortions are caused by the unintended effects of government. For example the proportion of private landlords willing to let via councils in London has reduced by a huge proportion.

        One of my neighbours in London, a tradesman, who decided to invest in a buy to let was told by the LA that the new brown carpet would have to be taken out and replaced by a beige one if he wished to let to council tenants. He did and it was subsequently ruined but put down to wear and tear.

        Other requirements for the latest windows, alarm systems and services put investors off. The Councils will rarely back a landlord in a dispute.

        In my town, the LA has introduced licensing with very onerous reqirements for management and accommodation. As a result, I now let to two tenants instead of four in a four bedroom house. I hope to find two couples or upgrade to family accommodation but the neighbours are now increasing the number of students in their property, presumably to cover the cost of licencing. In the meantime many properties are under occupied.

        • John Doran
          Posted December 19, 2012 at 9:27 am | Permalink

          I’ve tried buy to let, as I’ve never trusted paper pensions, & found similar difficulties dealing with the Local Authority.

          They made me install cavity insulation, which is causing damp problems. It looks like I’m going to have to take it out.

          On the tenant side, it is truly amazing how some people disrespect where they’re living with their kids.

          It is not a stress free situation, & I know of tenants lots worse than mine.

    • uanime5
      Posted December 15, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

      More families live apart in order to get more benefits since married couples get less in benefits than two single people. So the problem isn’t that families can’t cope financially when they’re apart but can’t cope financially when together.

      Changing the benefit system so that marriage doesn’t mean a loss of benefits would fix this problem.

    • libertarian
      Posted December 15, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

      Sorry Alan I disagree I live in a very popular part of the South East. They have been building here for years we have 1,000′s of cheap cardboard houses, we have more starter homes and houses than you can shake a stick at, the one thing they have in common is they are EMPTY. All of this has been done by the local Tory council allowing building on greenbelt land. There is also 100′s of acres of brownfield sites that have had planning permission for more than 20 years that hasn’t yet been built on.

      Home ownership is about work, earnings and borrowing on a mortgage. We have the LOWEST mortgage rate I’ve seen in more than 50 years, we DO have houses available what we don’t have is people WORKING and saving or any building societies left to advance them the money.

      In my day one got a job, saved for a few years with a decent interest rate ( unlike now) in a building society who would lend a multiple of earning to regular savers.

      • alan jutson
        Posted December 16, 2012 at 9:22 am | Permalink

        libertarian

        I agree to a point about housebuilding in certain areas.

        Wokingham has also outgrown its infrastructure, but houses are not empty in any number at all.

        The problem is also the last decade gehetto like planning approval constraints demanding ever higher densities, and narrower roads with no parking spaces.

        But I think if you measure overall the number of new builds against the population growth in the last 10 years we have a missmatch.

        Also agree with you comments about work and finance not helping the situation, but yougsters these days do not want to live with parents, which would enable them to save the initial depost.

        • alan jutson
          Posted December 16, 2012 at 9:23 am | Permalink

          oops typo’s

  9. Acorn
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    If Wishes Were Horses How Beggars Would Ride. If you rent your home you are on the wrong web-site. JR, you are starting to sound like lobby fodder reading a canvassing script. I think it is time for me to exit. See you on the doorsteps.

    Reply: Renters are welcome too! If bloggers have ideas on better renting, that is fine. I happen to think it is financially better for an indivudual over their lifetime to own, as not paying rent when retired is a great help to the budget.

    • Adam5x5
      Posted December 15, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

      Renting is a good idea in the early stages of life/career as it makes you infinitely more mobile.

      It is once you have found a position/company you are likely to stay with for an extended period that you are better to purchase a house.

      One of the main things I see among my peers (mid/late twenties) is a reluctance to move away from home. A lot of people will only want to look for a job in the local area and will only want to buy/rent in certain areas. This obviously pushes prices up in that area.

      If you’re less fussy about where you live and work, it is a lot easier than sticking to a certain area.

      (Ok I know this is easy to say for a man in his 20′s with no dependants, and a lot of people wouldn’t be able to do this due to dependants, but many more could)

    • zorro
      Posted December 15, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

      Yes, you might as well put Kirstie Allsopp’s picture on the blog (no, please don’t)……But John, what you say is correct. Unfortunately, it is often poorer people who have difficulty in getting mortgage finance to purchase a property, and they are the people who could do without paying rent when they retire. In the end, they become a charge on the state.

      zorro

    • StevenL
      Posted December 16, 2012 at 1:59 am | Permalink

      Taking out an 80% mortgage at these house prices is just betting that the government can maintain conidence in sterling and keep interest rates pinned to the floor for the next couple of decades. Given the levels of private debt, and now the soaring government debt, this is a brave bet to make.

  10. oldtimer
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    It is indeed desirable to own your own home but it has never been possible for everyone to do so. In our case we were in our early thirties before it was possible to raise the deposit and secure a mortgage (in the 1960s). I could not afford a car until I was c30, relying on two wheels before that. Are things so very much different today, apart of course from the impact of uncontrolled immigration through Labour`s years?

    The latest census revealed that the number of households with a mortgage has dropped to 33% from 39% a decade ago. Some commentators believe that this is a direct result of government policy. This squeezes interest rates to help fund its own escalating debt through QE and forces banks to hold more capital and reserves via holdings of that same government debt.

    • Jerry
      Posted December 15, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

      @oldtimer: “Are things so very much different today, apart of course from the impact of uncontrolled immigration through Labour`s years?

      Funny that, the years you talk about were mostly Labour’s years and there was (according to the likes of Enoch) uncontrolled immigration, of course the big difference between the 1950s/60s and the last 30 years is that during the 30 odd years there has been a drought of socail hosing at affordable rents – go figure what the real problem is, socialism & immigration or right-wing free market dogma & a wish by free market property speculators to keep property (both rent and purchase) values high…

      • Mark
        Posted December 17, 2012 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

        If we had free markets in housing prices and rents would be much lower. It is precisely the distortions of the free market by privileged allocation of social housing at subsidised rents, and by subsdising BTL via housing benefit and mortgages via below market interest rates, that lead to high prices and high private sector rents.

        • Jerry
          Posted December 18, 2012 at 11:34 am | Permalink

          @Mark: It is availability of socail housing that keeps free market rents down, not the other way around, this is why the free market are so anti socail/council housing stock.

          If we did not have a socail housing sector there would have to be formal rent controls otherwise there would be nothing what so ever to stop what would -in any other industry- be called a cartel forming, and this already happens in some areas, whilst those land-lords who didn’t would likely be the “Rigsby” (or even worse, the “Rachman”) type at the lower end of the market.

          • Mark
            Posted December 18, 2012 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

            Nonsense on stilts. The only way that social housing could keep free market rents down would be if you could freely move into council housing instead of having to spend years on a waiting list and meet the criteria as assessed by your local housing department. Now, I’d be very happy if that were possible. I don’t object to the likes of Frank Dobson choosing to live in a council property – so long as they pay an open market rent for it.

            Instead we have a system whereby a floor is placed under private sector rents by generous levels of housing benefit payments that go to the pockets of landlords.

          • Jerry
            Posted December 19, 2012 at 9:42 am | Permalink

            @Mark: You are making a very good argument for state rent controls, even more so when the government is handing so much money to private land lords via housing benefits (perhaps the government should pay these land lords direct, via electronic credit cards than can only be redeemed against building supplies and HMRC registered building companies…).

            But once again you actually showed your true position, and also the fact that you obviously didn’t understand what I was saying because you actually confirm what I was suggesting is happening (duh!), by the comment “so long as they pay an open market rent for it”, you want the private sector to fix what that fair rent is…

    • David John Wilson
      Posted December 15, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

      How much of this reduction in the number of mortgages is due to the increasing number of house owners who belong to religious groups that don’t believe in borrowing money. They have schemes that allow house purchase through various forms of joint ownership. These don’t count as mortgages because anything that resembles paying interest is hidden for religious reasons but in fact is not very different.

  11. iain gill
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    quite a number of men find themselves homeless when their house is given to their wife on divorce

    the divorce laws are not fair on men and the results of a failed marriage can destroy the man when often he has not been at fault and often generated the wealth in the house before meeting his wife

    quite a lot of folk end up homeless when their wealth earning partner dies or after seeing their parents through a long illness and death

    my wife and kids would be in serious trouble if I died despite the vast amounts of tax I have paid

    etc

  12. Vanessa
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    It would “nice” if government looked after its own first. In other words the British were at the top of the lists rather than immigrants who have paid NOTHING into our economy and get houses with 7 bedrooms because they have more children than we do. No wonder there is rampant resentment in the indiginous population when we see ourselves dumped on the scrap heap and foreigners getting all the help. Still I suppose governments can be SURE of getting immigrants votes in the next election !

    • Jerry
      Posted December 15, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

      @Vanessa: Don’t blame immigrants for a lack of housing in the UK, you should be questioning the cause, not the effect… I, and I’m sure many others to, no more want to see British citizens or immigrants living in unsuitable accommodation.

    • Gwen Tanner
      Posted December 15, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

      You are unfortunately right, but the government do not appear to want to change this for fear of upsetting the minority and therefore are seen to continually kick the problems into the long grass! Problem will never be solved unless we close all of our borders, even then I believe it will take decades to put it right in order for this problem of homelessness to marginally disappear.

    • zorro
      Posted December 15, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

      This is what really riles the resident population, and the fact that immigration is creating massively to the extra need for houses, schools, and hospitals. Nearly 50% of that need is down to immigration. It must be controlled immediately, followed by a strategy to ensure that there is a diversity of housing including more affordable long term renting security…..

      This will not be achieved until a proper fall in house prices occurs as they are completely disconnected from the real earning power of potential purchasers.

      zorro

    • Iain Gill
      Posted December 15, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

      while i agree with the sentiment you need to be careful, my wife isnt a Brit but I and my son are, I have paid way more tax into the system to cover the state insurance that should look after her if I went under a bus. on the other hand the masses of Indian nationals flooding in on ICT visas and going on to get indefinite leave and British passports is completely out of hand, and so on.

      i also dont like this “only houses for locals” nonsense i have seen elsewhere, I have moved allover frequently for work and to contribute to this country, I see no reason at all why my entitlement to anything should be tied to residence in a specific area for any length of time, this is massive disctimination against the mobile workforce.

  13. Single Acts
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    “There is a general shift to buying your first home at an older age….This is partially owing to high house prices compared to their starter incomes”

    Ask any young person moaning about the fact they can’t afford a house, how big a deposit they have saved. Every last one I have asked, the answer is nil with a vague wish/demand that the government give ‘em a house.

    It’s hard to own a house for sure, but if you don’t help yourself, it’s much harder.

    • alan jutson
      Posted December 15, 2012 at 11:24 am | Permalink

      Single acts

      Too many yougsters want to own their own home but cannot.

      At the same time many youngsters leave the comfort of the family home (when often paying little rent) to rent a small flat wqhich makes it impossible to save.

      Perhaps if more were to stay in the family home longer, they may be able to save up a larger deposit more quickly.

      • StevenL
        Posted December 17, 2012 at 1:53 am | Permalink

        That’s all well and good if your parents live where there are a lot of jobs, otherwise you have to move out.

    • Jerry
      Posted December 15, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

      @Single Acts: Sorry but the rational behind your comment seems a little “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”

      Some people, even more so if young, don’t have the income to both live (pay a market rent) and save for a mortgage deposit when working for or close to the NMW, and not everyone (for various reasons) can live with family or in-laws whilst saving for a deposit. Even with a deposit what sort of loan do you think someone earning ~ £12k would be given in any case, even more so if mortgage rules were to revert back to a more regulated pre 1982 style?

      No one is asking the “government give ‘em a house”, what they are asking for is the ability to rent a house (or flat) at an affordable market rent, and in any case even if these people are on such low incomes (or none) that the government really would be giving ‘em a house then they are hardly in a position to save for a deposit in the first place are they!

    • zorro
      Posted December 15, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

      Younger people now have to pay back student loans and struggle to save deposits which would be anywhere near enough to start owning a home. It would also not help the economy if they constrained their spending too much.

      zorro

      • stred
        Posted December 15, 2012 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

        The average cost of going to university in England for 3 years is 14 times the cost of my first mortgage in 1974.

  14. Bob
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Ex service men and women who need housing should get very high priority for public housing, and housing benefits.

    If we can do it for Abu Qatada and other foreign terrorists, and people who have done little or anything for the country, then we can do it for our troops.

    Obviously immigration has been a big problem, and Labour have now confessed to their misgovernance, but the coalition does not appear to have corrected the problem yet.

    • Tom William
      Posted December 15, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

      Actually they do. Most councils have signed “The Military Covenant” which promises priority?special treatment.

      • Iain Gill
        Posted December 16, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

        I actually dont support favourtism for ex forces personel, there are comissioning engineers, builders, and many others who move around regularly, have physically very risky jobs, and contribute greatly to this countrys tax take and international well being. i really dont think some of the lazy miliary so and sos I see inhabit Abbey Wood or Whitehall deserve any favourtism over many other folk in society. Many in the Military are far from badly paid for low risk jobs and get to retire on big fat pensions the rest of us would dream of.

        Confused set of rhetoric and policies here.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted December 15, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

      on ex service folk, actually i am on a defence programme at the moment. i find the inter personal skills of their officer class very bad, their ability to interact with folk of any other background non existant, and they are a large part of the reason our defence programmes screw up time and time again. the way they talk to people needs a big change. i dont find it strange that folk end up unable to fit into normal lifes after a lifetime working for such organisations. frankly they couldnt pass the basic management trainee programmes of any decent civil company, and their self perception is badly mistaken.

      • Bob
        Posted December 15, 2012 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

        @Ian Gill

        I guess this is the problem of adjusting back to civilian life that Mr R refers to.

        It must be hard when you been through what they have to come back and see people suing because someone said something that may be offensive to someone else. It must be quite baffling to them.
        (Come to think of it, it’s quite baffling to me, and I haven’t even been to a warzone).

  15. Jerry
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    I find it very strange that in 520 words Mr Redwood didn’t mention either “Rent” nor “Social housing” once, perhaps he should have titled this blog “Sleeping Ruff” as that seems to have been the real issue dealt with, with the problem being either the rich foreign migrants, people with drug or alcohol problems -which might actually be the effect and not the cause of their homelessness- or the failings of the military covariance etc.

    Not everyone, even when mortgages were being handed out like confetti, pre ‘Credit Crunch’, can obtain a mortgage even if house prices have dropped through the floor whilst the lack of socail housing simply allows private sector rents to become as expensive as repaying a mortgage [1] – which is why many people are in this sector in the first place, thus many can’t afford either mortgage nor rent.

    [1] that then has knock-on effects on the cost of benefits to the nation, unless once really is suggestion that we should retreat back as a society to a pre “Cathy Come Home” era…

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted December 15, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

      I find it very strange that Jerry can’t use the word ‘rent’ without following it up with ‘social housing’, by which he means government owned subsidised housing. There is no reason why there should be a priveledged underclass, any more than there should be a priveledged overclass. If you subsidise housing, tie the subsidy to the particular family in their temporary circumstances, not to a designated piece of property. A capped subsidy, of course.

      • Jerry
        Posted December 15, 2012 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

        Lindsay, if I had meant to say “Council Housing” I would have said so, socail housing can be be via the charitable sector etc.

        I was point that there is a shortage of affordable housing and the reasons for that shortage, also why do some on the right think it is their given privilege to make money out of what is basically (otherwise) the misfortune of others, but then many of the same people think it fair that they should be allowed to make money out of peoples medical misfortunes if they choose (as is done in the USA)… and the right then ask, like is happening currently within the US GOP, why the right have become so unpopular!

        • Lindsay McDougall
          Posted December 18, 2012 at 11:21 am | Permalink

          The right is ‘unpopular’ in the US because the Republican Party under Mitt Romny’s leadership opposed Hispanic immigration and appeared to be unwilling to offer an amnesty to illegal immigrants who had lived 20 years in the country. Bear in mind that Mitt Romney only lost the popular vote by 2%. George W Bush made sure that he had good relationships with Hispanic people, and he won. The Republican Party (and the US) have got to sort this issue out over the next 4 years.

          • Jerry
            Posted December 18, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

            Lindsay, what ever, it still doesn’t change the fact that the right in the USA lost, and the right in the UK is split and lets not forget that the GOP has already had 4 years to sort things out and that the Tories had 13 years…

            Wake up and smell the coffee!

      • StevenL
        Posted December 17, 2012 at 2:05 am | Permalink

        If the government built enough houses for everyone that wanted to rent one then the tenants wouldn’t be ‘privileged’. It costs about 90k to build a 3 bed house, rent out at 5% per annum, that’s 375 quid a month and it wouldn’t be ‘subsidised’ it would create a surplus.

        A massive government house building programe, followed by massively subsidised sales, is exactly what the baby boomer generation benefitted from and why they all have nice 3 bed houses. The main reason said houses are worth 10 times their kids average salary is that they won’t allow the same for their kids.

        Middle aged people are the main problem with the UK if you ask me.

    • zorro
      Posted December 15, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

      Some good comments there Jerry. Unfortunately, the obsession with housing economy is deeply engrained. The problem is high prices in general. The London market and some other parts of the money are special cases as they seem to attract the moneyed classes and foreign nationals looking for a convenient bolt hole…..

      In the real economy, housing is clearly overvalued when compared to the real wages on offer. It is unsustainable and that is why house sales are struggling. Banks know that housing assets are overvalued and will not take the risk. Houses must be allowed to drop to a sustainable level, immigration must be controlled. If these factors are not addressed, we will not recover economically, as people do not have enough money to spend on goods. The only thing keeping the wolf at bay is the low interest rate strategy although it has been disconnected from some who hold mortgages. There are still a substantial number of people on mortgages tied to the BoE rate. If interest rates, then there will be a fallout in housing prices.

      zorro

  16. Leslie Singleton
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    When the wretched shameless Labour Party (not alone I agree) not only allowed but encouraged immigration (assuming one is allowed to use this word any more–I deprecate your use of “inward migration”–if “immigrant” has become a negative it is of course because people don’t like immigration) in the scale we have endured, where exactly did they think the extra 10 million or whatever houses would come from overnight and “affordable” at that? Simply unbelievable except that one is forced to believe it every day of the weak. To think if the choice were Miliband or Cameron (Thank God it isn’t any more) it would have to the latter.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted December 15, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      Sorry–week not weak of course

    • zorro
      Posted December 15, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

      All part of a strategy whose ultimate aim is to destroy the idea of sustaining any viable nation state, pitting groups against each other on an increasingly small island, and making people easier to control. Does anyone think that the way policies are being pursued that their children or grandchildren will have an increasing quality of life or relatively increased wealth?

      zorro

      • John Doran
        Posted December 19, 2012 at 9:50 am | Permalink

        You can see the pattern eh Zorro?

    • zorro
      Posted December 15, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

      ‘Inward migration’ is the PC phrase to use nowadays whereas we used to use ‘immigration’ and ‘emigration’….I wonder why.

      zorro

      • Jerry
        Posted December 15, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

        @Zorro: Possibly because current economic migrant labour is often transient, on the other hand any ‘immigration’ or ‘emigration’ is not, the country the person moves to is (usually) their final and permanent destination, if you see what I mean. I certainly don’t think the change in terminology is misleading anyone, nor is it meant to.

        • Lindsay McDougall
          Posted December 18, 2012 at 11:42 am | Permalink

          Rather more economic migrants from the Indian subcontinent have turned out to be long term / permanent than those from eastern Europe. Some Eastern Europeans from the wealthier countries such as Poland return home if there is a recession here and the economy picks up in Poland. However, people from the poorer countries such as Romania or Albania will be less willing.

          • Jerry
            Posted December 18, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

            @Lindsay McDougall: Your closet door is swinging wide open… :(

    • Bob
      Posted December 15, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

      @Leslie Singleton
      “To think if the choice were Miliband or Cameron”

      It would be a very low turnout if that were the case!

      Would you like red socialism or blue socialism (or is it green socialism now)?

      • Jerry
        Posted December 15, 2012 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

        No Bob, it will be ‘socialism’ [1] with purple and yellow highlights, caused by all the UKIP flag waving as they proclaim another victory in keeping those eurosceptic Tories out of power for another five years, it was the UKIP vote that won it (for Labour)…

        [1] if you really think that, even under Ed Milliband, Labour are Socialist in their policies then you obviously can’t remember the last Wilson/Callaghan Government!

        • Bob
          Posted December 16, 2012 at 10:28 am | Permalink

          @Jerry

          I remember them and I also remember Ted Heath, so what’s your point?

          • Jerry
            Posted December 16, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

            My point Bob is that you do your arguments no good what so ever trying to convince people that the current Labour party is “Socialist” – there are many on the left who dearly wish they would be, the truth though is that since 1994 at best Labour has been a party of the centre.

        • APL
          Posted December 16, 2012 at 11:47 am | Permalink

          Jerry: “UKIP flag waving as they proclaim another victory in keeping those eurosceptic Tories out of power for another five years, .. ”

          If it weren’t for the sheer ineptitude of the Tory ‘leadership’ UKIP would have no impact on Tory turnout or voting patterns.

          As it is, UKIP are pushing at an open door.

          • Jerry
            Posted December 16, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

            @APL: Yes indeed, the only question is were that open door leads, to a staircase or a open lift-shaft…

  17. Gary
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    In Germany they rent, they do not buy. Because the Germans understand that capital is better invested in businesses than property. Businesses can grow from within. Capital tied in property speculation is a fool’s game that requires a stream of new entrants and when you cannot find new entrants into the ponzi, it collapses.

    But we can’t seem to learn, and the govt knows nothing else except trying to hand out bribes to lure new entrants into the scam.

    • Edward
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

      Gary,
      I hear this said regularly about Germany and other EU countries that they rent rather than buy their homes.
      This makes me ask…… there must be some rich landlords somewhere who own large numbers of freeholds or is it all state owned social housing?

    • John Doran
      Posted December 19, 2012 at 9:56 am | Permalink

      I do not regard the German pattern as in any way one to follow.

      I much prefer the English way of owning your own house, & having no rent or mortgage to pay on retirement, & having something to leave to family in your will.

  18. MickC
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Regrettably the rhetoric about more planning permission is just that-rhetoric.

    Try getting permission for a few houses in the local style and you will be refused. A large developer wanting to put up a massive estate of entirely obtrusive modern style houses-no problem at all.

    I will vote for almost any party provided Cameron is removed-then the Conservative party can be rebuilt along true conservative lines.

    • Jerry
      Posted December 15, 2012 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

      I will vote for almost any party provided Cameron is removed-then the Conservative party can be rebuilt along true conservative lines.

      Or simply fade into obscurity…

  19. Gary
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    People cannot rent or buy because the govt policies, executed by tax breaks and taxpayer and central bank underwriting , have spawned the mother of all property bubbles. And they are fighting tooth and nail to maintain it because if they don’t the banks collapse. The unintended consequences are that most people are priced out.

    You mess with the market, you end up in a mess.

  20. Neil Craig
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    At least 3/4 of the cost of houses is state regulatory paraistism. Housebuilders routinely spend more on lawyers fees than on bricks.

    Compare and contrast with the Chinese Skycity One which is going to build the world’s highest building – in 3 months – housing 100,000 people, for £400 million

    But don’t ever let anybody say the housing shortage is in any way natural or inebvitable.

    • uanime5
      Posted December 16, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

      You seem to have forgotten that the cost of labour and material is much cheaper in China, which is why they can build things so cheaply. Their standards for buildings are also much lower than the UK, which means they can construct cheap buildings that would be illegal under UK law.

      Your claim that regulations make up 3/4 the cost of houses shows that you don’t have a clue about standard construction contracts, arbitration, or construction tribunals; all of which were introduced to reduce the legal costs when disputes arise.

      • Edward
        Posted December 16, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

        Uanime5,
        A major cost advantage China has compared to the UK is the cost of land.
        Planning and building regs in this country are a major added cost.
        I suggest you try to develop a derilict listed property in the UK if you want to see how powerful the State is to delay and add huge costs onto your project.

      • StevenL
        Posted December 17, 2012 at 2:10 am | Permalink

        Planning permisson does make up 3/4 of the costs of a house in a lot of the UK. Town planning is regulation.

      • stred
        Posted December 17, 2012 at 10:35 am | Permalink

        When I started working as an architect in the mid 70s, I designed estate layouts and detailed houses, obtained regulatory permissions annd inspected construction for a fee of 5%, needing no assistance. Admittedly it sometimes took years to obtain permissions.

        The latest information, from friends still in the game, is that large housebuilders employ a team of 9 to clear regulations. Architects even have to consult policemen to see if they like layouts. A single scruffy conifer in the wrong place stopped my last project.

        The requirements for thermal performance testing and other calculations, requiring specialised consultants ensures that only large developers can enter the business. Their own costs are higher and larger fees and salaries are required. The space for normal rooms is squeezed in order to make space for disabled access in every new house. The cost of specialised materials for insulation and low energy systems is higher, as manufacturers are limited in number and they lobby to ensure that their products are acceptable and others are excluded. This is why construction costs in the SE were around £10/sf in the 70s and £200 now. The rise in land value is even greater in some areas.

  21. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Most of us don’t want current high house prices to be maintained. Moves towards a higher base rate and zero inflation would bring about further falls in house prices. It would be nice if most couples could afford their own homes by age 30.

    I’m all for reduced immigration. Now that it has been established beyong all doubt that the Labour government allowed too much immigration, what are the government’s proposals for reversing some of it. I see that Theresa May is congratulating herself on reducing the annual intake from 240,000 to 180,000. Years ago, a certain august gentleman said that a nation that admitted 50,000 people per annum from the New Commonwealth was (allowing too many migrants)

    • zorro
      Posted December 15, 2012 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

      They are not doing enough to reduce net migration and will face further challenges to this objective in the next year or so….I suspect that they will need to allow shared owners to buy up their properties with a discount to take account of the rent which they have already paid.

      zorro

  22. Kenneth R Moore
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    Homelessness presents the ruling left wing elite with a bit of a problem as they are in favour of continued mass immigration, but like the rest of us, are uncomfortable with seeing homeless people on the street. Well they can’t have it both ways – do they really think that importing 200,000 + new people every year isn’t going to displace anu vunerable people from housing stocks?. Their policy is to build sufficient houses to both house newly arrived immigrants and re-house existing homely people. A futile strategy – they can only ever hope to re-house a fraction of the new arrivals .

    The doctrine of tolerance, diversity doesn’t help somebody on minimal income find a home. The problem is that the country is overpopulated , and even worse it is growing at an unsustainable rate, particularly in the South East. However the politicians heads are still firmly in the sand.

    I know that Mr Redwood is extremely measured in his commentary on immigration – but isn’t somebody going to speak out strongly against the cruelty being inflicted on those at the bottom of society ?. Too little is being done, too late.

  23. A Different Simon
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    “Current prices can be sustained if more jobs and higher incomes can be generated in these locations to underwrite and sustain the property market. Policies for economic recovery and for growth outside London are part of the answer.”

    Surely its undesirable for so much money to be locked up in housing instead of productive enterprises and for people to pay so much in accommodation costs (and interest to lenders) over so many years .

    What we see with accommodation costs today is just an illustration of Ricardo’s Law of Rent ; access to decent pensions schemes has been closed for almost all and the money which should have been put away for old age has been snaffled by the housing market .

    Consequently the costs of old age get socialised and heaped onto the next generation .

    The first mistake was letting houses and building land get far too expensive .
    Trying to maintain them would be perpetuating the mistake . A surplus is needed to provide a functional market .

    If what has been done with housing had been done with food or water there would be moral outrage yet both are necessities .

    • Mark
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

      Much the same is being done with food, water and energy.

  24. forthurst
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Before building over our ancestral farmland, it would be a lot better to examine the reasons that people are having to delay their first home purchase, more than in prior generations.

    1. London has become a magnet for wealthy foreign property speculators because they believe it offers them a sound investment opportunity. These include prestigious single houses as well as property portfolios.

    2. The UK is a magnet for the whole third world as well as Eastern Europe because it offers them preferential access to housing according to their ‘needs’ and provides free healthcare, schooling and financial benefits care of the English taxpayer who cannot afford to get on the housing ladder.

    3. Buy-to-let has been promoted as a way of ‘saving’ which does not actually involve saving but does take properties off the housing market whilst inflating property values as well as tying up banks’ funds which could be available for prospective homeowners.

    4. Banks have failed to foreclose on defaulters thereby propping up the housing market, further preventing it finding its market clearing level.

    I did a calculation on a flat in my local area and determined that the net income before tax, dilapidations and maintenance was 4.1%. I can get a better return than that by investing in high yielding shares and without any hastle, yet the whole area is replete with rental accomodation.

    Is the government capable of addressing the major causes of the deficiency JR has been asked to highlight other than to propagandise the ‘need’ to build over the countryside, or is it not? Mr Thatcher introduced an initiative to increase home ownership without building more houses, but then Mrs Thatcher was a Conservative politician. This government inherited an unhealthy property market, an unhealthy banking sector, an unhealthy influx of people who cannot reasonably be accomodated in any way, but has shown precious little capacity for solving any of it. Trying to make political capital out of those unfortunates who are homeless at Christmas is pretty well their level.

  25. The PrangWizard
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    ”The government is trying to address the issue of expensive land prices that are part of the pricing in the dear areas. They are issuing a large number of new planning permissions which they hope will drive the land prices down, and lead to more development.”

    It not just ‘dear’ areas. If the government is to swamp England with cheap houses, and lets be clear it is England that is to get the dirty end of the stick again, as Governments’ can always get away with dumping on England, through a market intervening policy what is the point of anyone buying a property today if it will be cheaper tomorrow? The government’s plan is therefore to destroy the wealth of those who have worked and saved for it.

    Anyone who lives in an attractive area in a good big town or city with no land anywhere near capable of mass development, is probably going to be largely protected as values will be maintained, as you describe is the case in the better parts of London. These houses were built to meet a genuine market demand. It is the villages and small towns which are being destroyed.

    How about instead, compulsorily purchase and then knock down some of the big houses with biug gardens in the nice cities and build cheap ones on the sites? (It didn’t go down well before did it, when gardens were built on, maybe it should be tried again.) If were to happen it would also have the affect of bringing down the prices of the houses nearby and so meet the government’s objective on prices.

    Houses are now to be dumped on the villages. Who will be sent to live in them? What quality will they be, more than likely they’ll be built to the lowest standards, because the free market isn’t working. Will the people sent to live in them be in work, or will my taxes pay for them? If they can’t afford to buy a house how will they afford to travel, they’ll need cars. There are almost no buses.

    Frankly, even at Christmas, I’m not interested in doing anything to help house people who are here because of a the last Labour government’s perverted ideology which they forced on us and lied to us about, and then threatened us and tried to shame us if we objected. I’m sorry if this leaves some indiginous English people in a bit of trouble, but don’t blame me.

    I didn’t do it!

  26. Michael Cawood
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    The government needs to do all it can to ensure people can buy rather than rent homes. It is a step in the right direction to strengthen the right of council tenants to buy their homes, something that Labour under Gordon Brown had tried to reverse.

  27. Tom William
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    While there is a housing problem, there is a big difference between “homelessness” and “not owning a house”. Being unable to buy a house is not being homeless.

    Even not earning enough to rent a suitable property, or being unemployed, can usually be helped by Housing Benefit. I accept that there may still be problems but the real “homeless” are people who find it hard to cope.

    For ex Servicemen there are organisations like Haig Homes, which provide good rental houses and flats. The Royal British Legion and other Service charities will provide the first month’s rent and a deposit for any propertyto help those who have little savings.

  28. David John Wilson
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    The government needs to look at the houses bought for investment by foreign investors. The question is do they pay tax on the rent that is collected or is this yet another way of moving untaxed income out of the country. In practice the income is hidden in investment companies in such a way that any tax is avoided. The capital gains from any eventual sales are similarly manipulated out of sight.

    House prices can only be brought down if the huge advantages of investing in rented property are brought properly into the tax system.

  29. Normandee
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    I thought the services already had a scheme, I bought my first house in 1979 with a “long service advance of Pay”, effectively a loan to use as a deposit that was paid off over the remaining length of your service.

  30. David John Wilson
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    We need to make sure that more of the property that is under occupied is brought onto the market. This includes the following:

    Second homes that are only occupied for very short periods during the year. This should include not just the small holiday homes but also the multiple residencies owned bythe top five percent.

    Accommodation that forms part of commercial properties. In many cases it is cheaper to forget its past residential use and lose it from the taxed floor space. This varies from flats and accommodation over shops to that previously used by employees that needed to be resident but made redundant by modern electronic remote operation.

    • Bob
      Posted December 16, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      @DJW
      “We need to make sure”

      How do “we” do that then?

      Would it include foreigners who live elsewhere and maintain a residence in the UK?

      Would it apply to Polly Toynbee? or doesn’t it apply to people with second homes abroad?

      How would you find out which homes were “under occupied”? ask the neighbours perhaps? or force second home owners to register with the authorities and complete annual returns on occupancy?

      Sounds like creeping communism to me.

      • Jerry
        Posted December 17, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

        @Bob: Don’t local authorities know already what are second homes, for council tax (rebate allowance) purposes, they also know -or have a very good idea, due to census and electoral registration purposes- what the occupation of a property is. Once again Bob you invite ridicule on yourself, due to not really thinking about the issue, simple because you want to brand about silly comments about socialism or in this instance communism whilst forgetting that many of the current data bases the LAs can use alread6y were put in place by a past Tory government…

        • Bob
          Posted December 18, 2012 at 11:09 am | Permalink

          @Jerry

          “they also know -or have a very good idea, due to census and electoral registration purposes- what the occupation of a property is.”

          Being registered to vote in a constituency and length of occupancy periods are different things entirely. Didn’t you know that?

          • Jerry
            Posted December 18, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

            @Bob: …and Haddock is £10 per lb!

          • Bob
            Posted December 19, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

            @Jerry
            ” Haddock is £10 per lb!”

            Glad to see you maintaining your usual standard of debate.

          • Jerry
            Posted December 20, 2012 at 10:55 am | Permalink

            @BoB: I reply in kind, your comment made no sense beyond the fact that it was another ill thought out rant, the fact is LAs already know who lives where, when and for how long, your comment was as irrelevant as the price of fish is.

          • Bob
            Posted December 21, 2012 at 10:44 am | Permalink

            @Jerry
            ” LAs already know who lives where, when and for how long”

            So how do they know about our movements then? Are they tracking us by satellite?

            Please do tell.

        • John Doran
          Posted December 19, 2012 at 10:14 am | Permalink

          Jerry, we have a red tory party & a blue labour party.
          The differences are minor & inconsequential.
          Smoke & mirrors.
          Complicated by Cameron being Green …as grasss.
          :)
          Both have us on course for bankruptcy, civil strife & worse.

  31. Miami.mode
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    John.
    I am not quite certain what you mean by the term ‘homeless’. Are you talking about true homelessness (rough sleepers) which is often the result of mental illness or homeless e.g. forced to live with others?

    On home ownership it is an unfortunate fact that virtually everyone involved has a vested interest in prices staying high or increasing i.e. income based 0n percentage such as estate agents and government or lenders who stand to lose if the equity is less than the loan or indeed owners who can perhaps release some equity.

    By their actions government is in favour of renting (£20billion or so per year in housing benefit as opposed to new schemes which I believe talk about £1billion or so to assist prospective buyers). You will no doubt remember that during the 60s 70s and 80s it was the homebuyer that received benefits by way of tax incentives.

    I fully agree that more employment and prospects outside of prosperous areas will prevent internal migration but surely the key, whether renting or buying, is supply and demand, but a supply outstripping demand (probably impossible) can obviously cause serious financial problems to lenders or landlords. Only government actions can do anything to redress the imbalances.

  32. David Langley
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    In the early 60s the RN/RM launched a scheme called the “LSAOP” scheme, namely the Long Service Advance Of Pay scheme. This provided an advance of the gratuity of a leading hand in the RN or a Corporal RM which amount was equal to the retirement after 22 years of the appropriate applicant. The snag was you had to sign up immediately to enable completion of the 22 years the advantage was that the sum advanced was taken back in stages over the last 10 years of service. This sum was paid to your solicitor to advance the deposit required and pay for his services. This system enabled many servicemen to get onto the housing ladder and secured their families when homes cost a fraction of them today.
    I believe John the system today may be vastly different, many servicemen leave very much earlier on much shorter contracts. The stress of service in Iraq and Afghanistan has left many servicemen and women with PTSD and many with no jobs on leaving. A variety of issues poor resettlement practice and little worthwhile cash reserves cause homelessness. This has been the ex servicemans lot for generations unless they are switched on and recognise early that getting shafted is done to you by both the enemy and your own.

    • John Doran
      Posted December 19, 2012 at 10:52 am | Permalink

      Sad but true, David Langley. I read recently of a a squaddie forced into retirement a few days before his pension came in to force. Saved the govt in the region of £100,000.

      We send our troops into hellholes like Iraq & Afghanistan, after non-existent “weapons of mass destruction”, & a figment of George Bush’s imagination “The war on terror”. What should have been a 10 man operation to take out Bin Laden, if his CIA & SAS trained threat really existed, has turned into an 11+ year occupation, which reveals the true purpose to have been nation building & oil pipeline construction.

      & then we sh1te on them when they come home.

      How low our nation has sunk.

      We invade & enrage the entire Muslim world, (& in true Gilbert & Sullivan style Tony Bliar wants to be EU peace envoy to the Middle East! ), we invite the inevitable response etc etc
      Civil disorder is just around the corner, big style.

  33. Pete
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    I’d say the whole problem with the housing market is the incessant government interference and meddling. The very last thing we need is another policy for growth or homelessness or anything else. No policy solved more problems than it created – ever. Just cut regulation, cut tax and stay out of the way of the free market.

    • Jerry
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

      @Pete: Funny that, back in the 1950s and ’60s (both Tory and Labour) governments Town and Country planning was probably at heights yet the country didn’t have anything like the problems we have now, and remember that this was at the hight of both slum/blitz clearance and the baby-boom…

  34. waramess
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    To cure the problem of homelessness first you will need to allow a reduction in unemployment levels.

    There are various ways which this might be achieved, all of which are attainable but all at a cost:

    First, increase interest rates to a level commensurate with reality or, better still allow the markets rather than the Central Bank to dictate levels. House prices will fall rapidly rents will also fall, activity in construction will increase as it will in the associated industries.

    Second, remove the constraints imposed on employment such as the minimum wage and redundancy payments.

    Third, start reducing the size of government and in the process return resources to the private sector through lower taxes.

    Fourth stop inflating the currency each year and causing inflation in excess of interest rates.

    The old adage that you can’t have your cake and eat it rings true and we have in effect decided to save the the size of government, the banks and existing homeowners, at the expense of the savers the poor the unemployed and the homeless.

    An absolutely hopeless society we live in and the Conservatives are more than just complicit in its hopelessness.

    • Bazman
      Posted December 16, 2012 at 11:34 am | Permalink

      A job that pay below minimum wage is no worth anything to anyone except the employer and no redundancy payment is just wrong. If there was no minimum wage do you seriously see any British person competing with young East Europeans in a race to the bottom in wages? Should they? Get real.

    • uanime5
      Posted December 16, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

      Given that one of the reasons people can’t afford to buy a home is that they don’t have enough money how is paying them less than minimum wage going to fix this?

      Given that many people require housing benefit in order to have somewhere to live how is cutting benefits (reducing the size of government) going to help these people when they get more in benefits than they pay in taxes?

      In conclusion looking at the problem from the employer’s point of view doesn’t fix the problem of homelessness and produces solutions that will make the problem worse.

    • John Doran
      Posted December 19, 2012 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      And turkeys vote for Christmas.

  35. Daisy
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    I don’t see what is so wrong with renting while young and without family responsibilities; it allows rapid changes of job and encourages people to take chances and perhaps work abroad for a while without the worry of funding a mortgage or letting a property while absent.

    • uanime5
      Posted December 16, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

      The problem with renting is that it costs as much as paying a mortgage, so people can’t save money to buy a house.

      This is probably going to come as a shock to you but being young doesn’t make people want to rapidly change jobs or be forced to take chances. Most people prefer a stable job so they can plan ahead.

    • Bazman
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      Dead money. Thats whats wrong with renting.

  36. Iain Gill
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    Other folk I worry about

    The lady on that panorama programme the other night, diagnosed with cancer, forced into an intensive treatment regime, unable to keep up with full mortgage payments (although should could have kept up with the interest payments) and the bank reposed. Now the likely outcomes to my mind

    1 she would recover and return to work and be able to restart full mortgage payments

    or

    2 she would sadly die in which case the bank would be getting the house anyways (and they could have had the interest in the meantime)

    This repossession to me didn’t even make business sense! From the banks point of view they were putting themselves in a worse situation except in a strict accounting sense they had regained the asset.

    Children growing up and coming out of care, even if they somehow manage to get to college and when they come out of that college. These folk often end up homeless.

    Teenagers living rough on the streets after their parents die, no help through those formative years as their parents are gone.

    Frankly I think university halls of residence standard of accommodation should be the minimum.

    AND I have simple ways of paying for it. Don’t fund NHS or state school places for families here on work visas, cut the aid budget, increase the price of work visas massively, and so on.

    Those who have been in long term social care and have not contributed for many years often have very nice houses thank you very much, while the folk who have been paying their taxes who suddenly find themselves in trouble end up in one bed rooms or on the streets if they don’t have kids.

    Disgrace much of it. I don’t think the stuff I have seen has any defence in this country. And I am broadly as right wing as John Redwood!

    • Jerry
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

      @Iain Gill: What we need back is the branch Bank Manager, someone who can actually look such people in the eye and make such decisions, not some computer print out and (faceless) call centre operative working to a script and targets.

      • Lindsay McDougall
        Posted December 18, 2012 at 11:58 am | Permalink

        Branches are expensive to run – property, staff etc. Banks that have this overhead don’t offer such good interest rates for instant access savings or for personal loans as banks that don’t. High street banks cannot really afford to offer free banking – in the days of big bad Bob Diamond, Barclays could disguise this by cross subsidies from investment banking. Once investment banking is hived off or subject to ‘Chinese walls’, this option won’t be available and they will have to make a profit out of retail banking.
        New entrants such as Virgin Money might have the right cost profile for success.

        Probably what will happen over the medium term is that there will be fewer branches but those that remain will offer you the service that you want.

  37. Jon
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    I note that some banks are looking to move part of the workforce out of London for example HSBC to Birmingham. Birmingham has developed a growing banking sector.

    I see this as being related to the development of good transport links from London to Birmingham both road and rail in recent years. To use the housing stock in the Midlands and the North there needs to be jobs and transport links can fuel that. We are a very South East dependent economy, too dependent. London is getting costly and crowded and unless there are sister cities in the UK to recycle or expand to then London will price itself out. It needs good transport links out of London for its own economic health.

    I know its a contentious issue for the shires to the west and north west of London and I know we can’t afford HS2. I’m unconvinced its not what we should do for the benefit of the next generation. Too much was squandered in the past for immediate gratification of wealthy baby boomers who benefited from cheap houses, pensions, high wage inflation and loaded debt onto the next. I just see it as a way to siphon success from London further North and to allow London to continue to be priced competitively.

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted December 18, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think that HS2 is necessary for the recovery of Birmingham as an employment centre. The moving spirit of HS2 is that people and businesses can travel quickly to London (and eventually Berlin) to pay court to their lords and masters.

      • Jerry
        Posted December 18, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

        @Lindsay McDougall: It’s xenophobic comment’s like which are damaging, possibly fatally, the political right in the UK…

  38. zorro
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    ‘Current prices can be sustained if more jobs and higher incomes can be generated in these locations to underwrite and sustain the property market. Policies for economic recovery and for growth outside London are part of the answer.’

    But John, they can’t and won’t be in the future so those prices cannot be sustained. There is very little job creation in a lot of these areas. The increase in private sector jobs I think is concentrated in low paying service sector style jobs, at least, I have not seen any evidence to the contrary. A lot of the public sector jobs have been lost in these areas, along with some REMPLOY factories closing. The paucity of income tax receipts may well also support that view…..

    ‘I also think young people should have the option of forming their own household in their twenties and buying a property where they have a normal job. More needs to be done to get back to this position.’

    Indeed, but it is well beyond impossible for young people with student loans to buy in the South East. The jobs paying those wages are not there……parents can sometimes help but some will be uneasy about releasing equity when prices could well fall/crash sometime in the near future.

    With regards to the Funding for Lending wheeze, the last time I looked, for some reason the banks don’t seem to be lending much of this £80 bn…..

    zorro

    • John Doran
      Posted December 19, 2012 at 11:13 am | Permalink

      One thing discouraging young families is that young ladies are hugely subsidised through housing & other benefits to become single parent families, producing more kids for more benefits.

      If they move a man in, they lose too much in benefits.

      Pushing up house prices, rental costs, & working against families.

      That’s a one way street to ruin.

  39. Mike Stallard
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    Loving the (unfavourable adjectives deleted) homeless men (and a couple of women) is not something for the government.

    • Bob
      Posted December 16, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

      Mr R,
      Now you’ve got me guessing at the unexpurgated version of Mr Stallard’s comment.

  40. sm
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    We have been hollowed out by this ‘free trade’ based on very low labour costs and ill thought out policy on locally imposed carbon taxes in a global world. (Property doesn’t move – people are being economically pushed/pulled)

    Our social safety net and structures built up and paid by UK taxpayers cannot be expected to meet demand without resolve equal to the force unleashed against it.

    Inward migration needs to be suspended.Encourage a sensible planned population and benefit system which is sustainable as a whole and not skewed to exclude responsible behavior or single people. Why was rent support decided to be paid to claimant rather than direct? is that helpful?

    Allow price/earning ratio to re-assert itself to historic norms.

    Reduce leverage in the banking systems – a modern jubilee (ref Steve Keen). Take back control of our money and build/refurbish if needed.

    Level the playing field? Stop subsidizing the B2L market via tax relief on interest on existing properties. Reduce leverage in the system (full reserve banking).

    Tax landbanking (land value tax) and promote buying groups on behalf of purchasers not builder/sellers.

    Increase supply and cap the section 109 (social contributions) paid by first-time buyers in starter property. Contract and build social housing directly. Allow a state fund to purchase distressed private homes (with haircut) for rent-backs at marketrate.

    A process to bring freeholds back to leaseholders automatically as a common-hold based in the UK unless leaseholders as a group opt-out.

    The military should be ordered and funded to deal with ex-military needs during and for a significant period post leaving service.

  41. DiscoveredJoys
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    The prefabs were one way of addressing the housing shortage after WWII. Not terribly big or overly specified but many people came to love living in the post war prefabs. Perhaps we could do with a 21st century equivalent of the prefabs?

    A common design or two, cheap prices due to large production runs, and a few rules about being starter homes only. Councils or housing associations could build up ‘banks’ of prefabs to be sold or rented or co-owned. They could be well insulated but otherwise low spec, no garages, to encourage people to move on once they had built up some money. With careful layout you could achieve quite high densities yet still have room left over for amenities. You could even utilise council owned land and sell the prefabs on a leasehold basis.

    A lot more though would be needed to make the prefab idea work, but we know it has worked in the past…

    • carol42
      Posted December 15, 2012 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

      Good idea, I loved the old prefabs and many of the people who lived in them were heartbroken when they were forced to move. I like the rest of your ideas too.

  42. uanime5
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    The main problem with building more homes is that developers don’t want to build housing that’s affordable to someone on minimum wage but a house that can be sold for as much money as possible. They’re also less willing to build low cost housing in wealthy areas, even though these areas employee a lot of people on low wages (an example would be housing for cleaners in Chelsea).

    Given that the coalition has introduced an apprentice wage, which pays below minimum wage, and workfare, which replaces paid employees with unemployed slave labour I doubt incomes are going to increase any time soon. Especially not if inflation remains high.

    One interesting thing about homelessness is that the number of homeless men sleeping rough is ten times greater than the number of homeless women, mainly because there are so many charities that provide housing for homeless women and so few that provide any help for men. Perhaps this is an area the Government should investigate to ensure that someone who is homeless doesn’t suffer additional hardships because of their gender.

    • Edward
      Posted December 16, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

      uni, a point of correction:-
      As long as the minimum wage has been in force there has always been seperate lower rates for younger staff.
      It is not something the coalition has recently invented.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted December 16, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

      yep sex equality in the politically correct agenda of this country is very biased, as is the supposed equality agenda of politically correctness which is actually pro sustained prejudice against some sections of society when you examine it from any rationale view

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted December 18, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

      Developers building what the market wants is a solution, not a problem. We should allow it to happen further down the income scale and get rid of all ‘social housing’. For example, the market as could provide bedsits for families of 3 people with an income as low as £15,000 per annum. However, one point has to strongly made: if you can’t afford lots of children, don’t have them.

      • Lindsay McDougall
        Posted December 18, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

        As for the point in your final paragraph, evolution works best if men are risk takers and women are by and large not.

  43. thomas
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    You say homelessness “goes to the heart of the all consuming and worrying issue of poverty.”

    Then you say policies for growth outside of London are required, including schemes to support bank lending, by reducing inward migration and dealing with social problems such as mental health and addiction.

    Aren’t you therefore exposing contradictions in relation to your previous statements you’ve made on these ’causes of homelessness’, and in which case aren’t you exposing yourself as a creator of poverty?

  44. gyges
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    I think that we should repeal section 1(b) Law of Property Act 1925 (I’d post a link but your site doesn’t seem to like it) which would change the relationship between landlord and tenant to that of trustee and beneficiary.

  45. peter davies
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

    Interesting point about ex forces. From my experience, one problem with ex forces having problems adjusting outside is that too much is done for them whilst serving in terms of accommodation.

    What I mean by this, using the analogy of socialism if you like – throw too much help at someone with little in return -n many will become dependent on the institution that provides that help (client state) – so in this case we are talking about a symptom (though this may not take account of other factors, like jobs and PTSD etc).

    The best way I think you could help armed forces personnel is to rotate them less frequently (less arms plot moves) and encourage by default them to buy their own properties (backed up by some sort of allowance so that they become fully familiar with the real world whilst serving). The obvious savings is the reduced requirement for married quarter provision.

  46. Bazman
    Posted December 16, 2012 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    The only way you can become master of your own destiny not be threatened by eviction either by a landlord or by an employer is to own your own home and the land completely paid for. Anything else is selling yourself and your family short leaving them exposed to government policy and blackmail from employers. The best part being that when you are listening to any bosses spiel you have at the back of your mind that you could just tell him to ram it. How much is that investment worth? What this government need to do is encourage home ownership and more importantly the virtues of not owing any money. It’s expensive to be poor.

    • Edward
      Posted December 16, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

      Excellent stuff Bazman, well said too, I completly agree with you.
      The finest thing is a property owning democracy. Power to the people.
      It gives us a freedom from the “robber barons” of this current world.
      Ownership of a little bit of land with a roof over your head for you, your family and for any future generations is what it is all about.
      It is worth recalling that it was Margaret Thatcher who understood this was a human right that should be for all citizens.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted December 16, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

      Re “The best part being that when you are listening to any bosses spiel you have at the back of your mind that you could just tell him to ram it” perfectly possible to have the cash invested to be in this position while still renting…

      Indeed in many parts of the country currently you can rent a house for less than the investment return on the cash it would cost to buy that house, with none of the maintenance risks etc.

      • Bazman
        Posted December 17, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

        Until it all goes wrong due to a banking crash or the like.

        • Edward
          Posted December 18, 2012 at 12:21 am | Permalink

          No need to worry, Baz, your cash is covered by the bank deposit protection scheme.
          The first £85k of deposits are safe with 100% cover.

          • Bazman
            Posted December 18, 2012 at 11:50 am | Permalink

            The land is safe as I am physically standing on it not relying on the government of the day to guarantee its worth. If I could be tricked out of it in some way by dodgy politicians and their bangster mates I would be. I need to get myself a gun..Russia has no land rights. All land belongs to the state and this is why they live like they do and cannot move forward until this is changed. Think about it. This is the very fabric of Britain.

          • John Doran
            Posted December 19, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

            Part of the problem is that our out of touch politicians feel a greater obligation to the rest of the world than our own populace, windmills in Africa, for heaven’s sake, & farmers in Columbia. Aren’t they growing enough cocaine?

            This huge immigration is (not ion our national interest).

            Traitors is the word I would use.(about the politicians)

          • John Doran
            Posted December 19, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

            Until the huge inflation that is built into QE breaks out, & the credit bubble bursts.

            We will be like the Weimar republic, going to the shops for a loaf of bread with a wheelbarrow load of useless paper money.

            And the shop won’t have any bread.

    • John Doran
      Posted December 19, 2012 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      Got to agree with you 100%.

      We have got to get back to a culture of saving & living within our means.

      Sadly, at the moment, I do not think this is likely even after the huge upheavals to come.

  47. Barbara
    Posted December 16, 2012 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Migrants as far has I’m concerned come at the bottom of the pile for houses, we don’t have to considar them at all, if they come here and are homeless they should return whence they came, we owe them nothing. However, we do owe our own citizens something when they fall on hard times like a decent place to live. Or we should encourage building societies and banks to me more helpful when mortgage payments get into arrears, instead of getting householders out so quickly. Unemployment is the problem.
    If you have migrants coming and taking social housing as well the indigenous people’s have no chance. Like has mentioned, many houses are so badly maintained they should not be for rent in the first place. Councils should introduce a register of rented properites and a licence fee for all to rent. We now have a bloated private sector housing department in all councils, mainly to deal with complaints about the state of many properties. This comes out of council tax we all have to pay. Having a licence fee system would help recover the cost of housing officers having to check and cover the complaints. Why should the taxpayer pay for this?
    Has for owners of property, we live by rented property and the upkeep of the properties and the tidiness as been a constant problem, and couple that with landlords who are only interested in getting the money, the situation is fraught to say the least. It needs proper rent controls, via the council, and properties made to be at a livable standard. Until that’s done nothing will be done to eleviate the problem. We should therefore close the immigration door shut and clear up the migrant problem and the housing problem in one go, of course it won’t happen so we will all continue to suffer.

  48. Terry
    Posted December 16, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Why is it that we have homeless persons when the likes of terror suspect, Qatada, can change houses at will? And it is all paid for by the British tax payers who have no say in the matter. But they will at election time.

    The man is laughing at our so-called democracy and why shouldn’t he? He gets everything for free when we are expected to cut back. What is the matter with our country and what is the matter with our Government?

    • Iain Gill
      Posted December 16, 2012 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

      Re “But they will at election time” sadly part of the problem is the imperfection and lack of precision in the democracy we have. I can be fairly sure if we had a referendum along the lines of “should we be allowing single men to freeze to death in the snow this winter” the population would vote against… sadly the party system doesnt translate that national will into action.

    • Kenneth R Moore
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

      The problem is that foolish people keep voting for the 3 main political parties, in particular Labour. Atleast former Tories can turn to UKIP when they see through Mr Slippery.
      Rotherham – the local party was exposed (with questionable conduct-ed) and found guilty of putting it’s politcally correct agenda before the welfare of kids degree.. but still the idiots kept voting for the donkey with the red rosette.

  49. Monty
    Posted December 16, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    DiscoveredJoys
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 8:16 pm | Permalink
    The prefabs were one way of addressing the housing shortage after WWII.
    ————-

    There is a company that makes re-doployable housing units based on standard 40 foot shipping containers. They have already used this system to construct a student hall of residence, and public housing authorities in Amsterdam are looking into using them.

  50. Electro-Kevin
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 1:23 am | Permalink

    Migration is obviously an issue. Thank you for mentioning it.

    I can’t help but note that virtually every homeless person I see begging or selling The Big Issue is a white man – he is usually English and often has a Staffordshire Bull Terrier with a scarf. Is there a reason for this ? I also noted this during my time in the police twenty years ago. Are white men locked out by the social system ?

    Clearly average house prices are out of kilter with average wages. This is because of purchasing with multiple incomes and the removal of the 3x salary plus-one cap that used to exist.

    It has made it very difficult for mum to stay at home with young children. High housing costs (and single mums on benefits) has made for record numbers of children arriving at schools untrained in the very basics.

    My financial advisor tells me that his most frequent enquiries are from couples with combined incomes of 30k and a deposit of 10k. The average house here is 235k and a flat 150k. Lending multiples are more flexible than they used to be but it is saving for deposits (with rising rents) which is proving to be the greatest obstacle.

    Parents have taken to helping their offspring on to the housing ladder but this is exacerbating the wider problem of house prices beyond realistic earnings.

    Regional pay scales will be difficult to implement in areas where the earnings/cost of living ratio are already worse than London and the Sth East. What is driving the costs up in areas of high unemployment and low wages ?

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 1:25 am | Permalink

      “High housing costs (and single mums on benefits) has made for record numbers of children arriving at schools untrained in the very basics.”

      Where parents are struggling to be all things at once.

  51. John Doran
    Posted December 19, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    When I was studying Architecture, we looked at homelessness & found some surprising things.

    One was that it was a lifestyle choice for a fair number. No rent, rates, heating, lighting etc etc.

    Another was that many were socially inadequate personalities.( left out narrow specification of a group who are by no means the whole problem-ed)
    Many more were slaves to drink & drugs.

    I remember feeling a huge respect for the Sally Army, on the spot with hot food, clean clothing, & cheerful help & advise. That respect remains, always got a couple of quid for the Sally Army, bless em.

    It’s a large & complex issue Mr Redwood, & worse places to start to gain an understanding than with the Salvation Army.

    • Bazman
      Posted December 21, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

      If you only talked to alcoholic tramps then you would come to that conclusion. As architects have been responsible for buildings like tower blocks whilst themselves living in cottages in the Cotswolds. It’s little wonder you come out with such silly comments.

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  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood has been the Member of Parliament for Wokingham since 1987. First attending Kent College, Canterbury, he graduated from Magdalen College, and has a DPhil from All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.
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