Buying affordable housing


Several bloggers have complained that homes are too dear in the UK. They have advocated policies to bring the prices down further, following the falls of recent years outside London.

I have been finding out if there are better value homes already available in the Uk that individuals on average income or below could afford. I accept that London is now very dear for all of us.  I am pleased to report that there are numerous cheaper homes in our larger cities outside the capital.  On one site I found 398 homes for sale  under £60,000 in Liverpool, 108 under £60,000 in Manchester, 52 under £60,000  in Nottingham and 59 under £60,000 in Birmingham. Any of these could make homes for people with a job or  going  into business in these great cities.

Nearer to London things do get dearer. Even here there are 35 homes for sale under £100,000 in Wellingborough, 51 in Corby, 55 in Swindon and 63 in Hastings on the one internet site.  Close to London there are park homes and shared equity properties in the lower price ranges.

The UK’s housing problem is not a simple case of too few homes in London and the hotspots. It is also a case of more homes in some places than there are people wishing to live there. Policy needs to find more ways to encourage people to make their homes and find their employment in the great northern towns and cities and in other locations outside London, where there is more residential property available at more affordable prices. All three main parties in the Commons want a better balanced UK. There are policies being followed to create one. The debate needs to be about how we can accelerate that process, so more of the empty homes on the market can be used.

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  1. Brian Taylor
    Posted June 24, 2013 at 5:17 am | Permalink

    The DVLA are in Swansea, are there any other such gov. Dept.that could be relocated to northern cities that are in London at the moment?
    Drilling for Shale Gas in the north west would create jobs,when is this to get the go ahead?

    • Nick
      Posted June 24, 2013 at 7:52 am | Permalink

      DVLA should go. There is no need for Road Tax. Just add a couple of p on petrol and diesel. All the DVLA need to do is register car ownership, and check insurance and MOT.

      Car ownship changes rarely.

      Insurance – just a feed from a small number of insurers and its already in place.
      MOT – just a feed from a small number of testers.

      Job done.

      The DVLA is just a make work scheme.

      • Jerry
        Posted June 24, 2013 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

        @Nick: “Car ownship changes rarely.

        What utter nonsense!

  2. livelogic
    Posted June 24, 2013 at 5:42 am | Permalink

    Clearly we cannot all live in Chelsea or Knightsbridge and price is the correct method of rationing. Otherwise we will just have them allocated by governments to socialist politicians.

    There are plenty of cheap homes around, what is needed is more jobs, cheaper fuels (so people can afford to travel to the jobs from these areas) and lower taxes. Decent schools, law and order so that certain areas do not become no go areas for many people and families.

    Get rid of the government inspired costs of building, which can be as much as 50% of the cost of building a new house. Cut the state sector to below 30% of GDP, get rid of the expensive energy religion, reduce taxes and regulation and introduce school voucher to give people freedom and sort out education and stop people being forced to use bad schools.

    Alas we are run by Cameron’s socialists who seems to think everything should be run from the centre, are happy with a nearly 50% state sector doing little of any use, support the appalling disaster that is much of Cameron’s priority N…..H…..S, want more EU, more wars, more absurd “enforced equality”, more unscientific green tosh, more gender neutral insurance, more unrestricted benefit and health tourism and clearly beleive they have a magic money tree.

    Interesting to listen to File on 4 on radio 4 yesterday and the interesting way valuable property assets were being sold off by Labour councils without, it seems, proper open process and at highly questionable values. Also to read about the incompetent way that the NHS purchases drugs. Still it is not their money after all, what do they care?

    • Alte Fritz
      Posted June 24, 2013 at 6:53 am | Permalink

      Yes, in other words, restore the basics of a civilised civil society, so that people have a fair starting point and a reasonable expectation that work provides at least a decent manageable life.

      • lifelogic
        Posted June 24, 2013 at 8:54 am | Permalink

        Indeed proper incentives to encourage self reliance, not huge incentives to be feckless such as currently pertain. Above all fewer parasitic activities, be they in the state sector, the legal profession, the tax planning industries, the fake green industries, the CAP subsidy funded farm nonsense or any of the others that are so encouraged by the daft, complex system that has been constructed.

      • uanime5
        Posted June 24, 2013 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

        The only way for someone to have a decent manageable life is to earn much more than minimum wage.

        • Edward2
          Posted June 24, 2013 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

          Or for PAYE, National Insurance, VAT, TV license, excise duties on tobacco and alcohol, utility prices, Council taxes, fuel duty, etc to come down, leaving the citizen on minimum wage with more money left to spend after all these taxes are paid.

        • lifelogic
          Posted June 24, 2013 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

          They can only be paid more if they are worth it to the company.

          • Bazman
            Posted June 26, 2013 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

            Not true. Many companies are making massive profits from their employees especially care companies who’s profit rise by the number of zero hour employ they employ. No danger of a pay rise for these people working for state paid private companies. You laughably suggest they will share?
            Should living costs be cut these employees would be expected to pass on these savings to the company in the form of lower wages Deadwood2.

          • Edward2
            Posted June 27, 2013 at 11:23 am | Permalink

            You don’t need to descend to childish rudeness when you cant rebutt a point correctly made.
            Its not that wages are low, its inflation and all the higher levels of taxes and rising fixed costs that is creating a reduced standard of living for us all.
            And half a million new arrivals each year have not helped those already competing for jobs especially those jobs which are unskilled where many apply for each vacancy.
            I presume therefore if you ran your own business, you would of pay wages far higher than all your local competition paid.
            Have a think about what would happen and get back to us.

          • Bazman
            Posted June 28, 2013 at 5:50 am | Permalink

            I’ll get back to you. Wages are not low? Six quid minimum wage is overpaid? Wages have been falling for years and many companies are making large profits on low paid jobs not just the typical small business struggling to survive and bar work etc, but large companies making millions of profit exploiting these factors. The idea that they will somehow share these profits via wages is not real and any cost savings made by reducing these fixed costs such as housing would, as I said, be expected to be passed onto these employers and the utility companies. The millions as you put it, have driven down the levels of wages and the British person cannot compete with five to a room/car nor should they this is the problem, basically exploitation of desperation and making signing on after weeks work delayed by a week is no incentive to getting a job. etc

          • Edward 2
            Posted June 28, 2013 at 7:41 am | Permalink

            Just repeating your original rant however, doesn’t answer the question posed which I note you carefully avoided
            Would you pay wages much higher than you needed to if you employed anyone?
            My original point now forgotten was simply that rising taxes, inflation and utility prices are reducing peoples chance to afford homes as much as the level of wages.
            And I have never said the min wage is enough as you imply I have.

          • Bazman
            Posted June 28, 2013 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

            You are saying that large companies such as supermarkets just pay market wages when in fact they set the wages. The small business has to pay what for what they can get this true, but do not try to tell us that a large business is the same as a small one and blame the ‘market’ and old Tory trick.

          • Edward2
            Posted June 29, 2013 at 8:36 am | Permalink

            Still no answer Baz, just your usual incorrect moan about big businesses controlling and conspiring to reduce all the wage rates.

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted June 24, 2013 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

      “Clearly we cannot all live in Chelsea or Knightsbridge”

      One interesting thing about London is that certain areas are the preserve of only the very rich or very poor, for example if you want to live in a central London apartment block on the banks of the Thames you have to be either a millionaire or be in poverty and qualify for social housing in the Oxo Tower – it is the same in several other prime London locations . Only the middle-classes are excluded.

      • zorro
        Posted June 24, 2013 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

        Well the rich can’t do without their cleaners…..


        • lifelogic
          Posted June 24, 2013 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

          Yes but they can commute.

          • Bazman
            Posted June 26, 2013 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

            From the north in a car?

  3. Jerry
    Posted June 24, 2013 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    No point having people move into such homes if there are no jobs and once there are the (plentiful) jobs those prices will rise (unless you are suggesting some kind of price control…), the prices you quote are low because that is all the market can stand and even at those prices there seems to be a deficit of buyers.

  4. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted June 24, 2013 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    There is a reason that these homes are inexpensive John and we all understand why. It is desirability. The huge middle classes do not want to live in down run areas , with litter all over the streets ,kebab shops on every corner , dirty lace curtains and neglected 2ft square front gardens , however that is freedom to live as one wishes and many simply do not wish to belong to a community which lives like this.

    • Bazman
      Posted June 24, 2013 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

      They can stay with their mums then. Cheapest B&B in town.

  5. JimF
    Posted June 24, 2013 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    Yes agreed there are houses for sale at low-ish prices in northern cities. I think you’d have to look in the mirror and ask, as a young graduate/DPhil, whether you’d have bought one to live in?

    Reply I bought in Didcot, the nearest place to Lodnon I could afford.

    • Mark
      Posted June 24, 2013 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

      At a similar time, I was living in a hostel in nearby(8 miles on foot from Didcot station, as I know too well) Abingdon (2 to a room) off £16.10p.w. gross, £6.49 net after deductions (which covered transport to work – £1.10, emergency income tax at 30% of the wage, NI, and hostel board (breakfast/supper, not at weekends) and lodging. Today the hostel is housing estate. I managed to live within that miserly government/UKAEA wage.

      Today Didcot offers 50% equity in a tiny newbuild terrace home for £110,000. That’s over 260 times my gross annual pay back then to own the smallest of properties.

  6. Glenn Vaughan
    Posted June 24, 2013 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    John – You may well find properties with an asking price of under £100k but there are associated costs with each purchase of course. Aside from legal fees, estate agent fees and surveys, a property may also require renovation that could add many thousands of pounds to the purchase price.

    • A different Simon
      Posted June 24, 2013 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      Might be very difficult to insure too if the postcode is one associated with subsidence , crime or other problems .

      This is the case in many postcodes in Wokingham . End up stuck with the same insurer unless you are willing to pay for a full structural survey .

      Outside the central areas of a major city a dwelling without somewhere to park is no good for anyone who needs to travel to a job which involves anti-social hours .

      Local schools may be rubbish and consign a child to a life of unemployment or under-employment . Do Cameron and Clegg appreciate how lucky they were to be born the other side of the glass ceiling and how much opportunity was available to them on a plate ?

      15% of take-home pay may go in costs to travel to work and work clothes . Then there is child-care .

      Even £100k is not affordable to a single person on national average wage as once accommodation costs are deducted they would not be able to save enough to provide for their old age .

    • lifelogic
      Posted June 24, 2013 at 10:48 am | Permalink

      At least the Tories did get rid of the idiotic HIP packs (well almost we still have the idiotic energy certs) so at least we save there. That the abolition of the M4 bus lane and the criminalisation of squatting is about all that is positive so far and after 3 years.

      • Terry
        Posted June 24, 2013 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

        EPCs are not idiotic if all the details are available. Data such as household electricity and gas outgoings over a three years period will provide an indication of energy costs. All good info for a potential buyer, I’d say.

        • lifelogic
          Posted June 25, 2013 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

          The EPC’s never say anything useful that is not quite clear from a brief look round the property. Most buyers, or potential tenants, never even look at them.

  7. Mike Wilson
    Posted June 24, 2013 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    Rather simplistic Mr. Redwood. I don’t want my children to have to ‘up sticks’ and go and live hundreds of miles from where they grew up – from their family, friends and, of course, their jobs – just so they can afford a house.

    And, of course – and you know this – local house prices reflect local wages. Someone earning 40k in London is likely to be paid 25k for the same job in Leeds. The fact that there are 2 up 2 down terraces in Liverpool – in roads that, no doubt, one would want an armed escort to walk down – is COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY IRRELEVANT.

    The simple fact is that house prices are too high because successive governments have allowed the banks to lend ludicrous amounts of money secured against property. It is just that simple and mind bogglingly stupid.

    Imagine a cabinet meeting with some blue sky thinking …’How could we make our country as uncompetitive as possible in the global economy? Anyone got any ideas? …’

    ‘Well we could allow banks to create money out of thin air and lend higher and higher salary multiples as mortgages – this would drive house prices up (as there is infinite demand and a government created shortage (the planning system)) – and everyone would need high wages just to put a roof over their head’.

    ‘Brilliant! We’ll do that – and once house prices rise, existing owners will borrow against their houses to get at their unearned equity and spend it! And we’ll get loads of tax and growth and make ourselves look so clever!’

    @livelogic – when you say ‘there are plenty of cheap homes around’ – I would suggest that:

    1) If a home is cheap it is because it is:
    a) somewhere you or I would not like to live
    b) there are few jobs in the area
    c) local wages are very low

    If you want your children to upsticks and go and live in a crime and drug-ridden back street in a city hundreds of miles from home – all I can say is you must be desperate to see your house price stay up – at any cost.

    • stred
      Posted June 24, 2013 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      House prices in desirable areas are not only unaffordable in this country. My son is off to Australia to find a job and prices there are even higher there. In southern France and around Paris prices are around the same as in the UK. In Germany and other nordic countries, a far higher proportion of property is rented and private sector. Private rental is regarded as a respectable normal part of the housing solution, allowing mobility and choice.

      Leases are usually longer and tenants have to return the house strictly in the same condition. In the UK, this breaks down as many tenants do not comply and the cost of delapidation is higher. Rental arrears are frequent and deposit arrangements are so costly that it is often not worth the effort. As a result, 6 month agreements are the norm. However, if tenants are reliable, most landlords will extend the period indefinately and this is automatically renewed. Labour are planning to take us back to the old days of property control and the sector will shrink and have to be replaced by state housing?

    • lifelogic
      Posted June 24, 2013 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      Clearly it is a market and cheaper houses will be in areas that are less desirable and have fewer local jobs, if you want to live in a posh area you just have to earn enough so to do and pay up. Not everyone can live in Chelsea or Sandbanks how else is it to be rationed? Just as not every one can holiday in the Mauritius and eat at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, life is like that, have you not noticed? It is part of the work incentive scheme that is needed but is hugely undermined by the government.

    • Bazman
      Posted June 24, 2013 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

      This also work in the jobs market the same way. Not all areas are crime ridden but there are no jobs and without a job property is expensive everywhere. Bedsit land is very cheap even in expensive areas and the prices have not kept pace with inflation. Another option is sharing a rental house with other couples or individual persons. In both cases the experience will be character building. Just because someone fancies themselves as middle class and wants preferential treatment the market levels this out. On Ya bike and ram it.

  8. Denis Cooper
    Posted June 24, 2013 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Some of those cheap houses may be in areas where you would not want to live, even if you could find a good job within reasonable travelling distance.

    But clearly it is a matter of the available work.

    Labour’s main solution to high unemployment in some less-favoured parts of the country was to create public sector jobs, or in some cases non-jobs, funded by taxes from the more prosperous parts; that can have some merit as a short term expedient but not as a long term solution, which must involve attracting private sector investment.

    The obvious solution would be to devise a system for a package of business taxes to be set in an inverse relationship to per capita GDP in each area, and on quite a small, genuinely local, geographical scale, such as a post code area, rather than on a larger regional or even a county or city scale.

    But the obvious problem would be how to stop companies cheating in order to minimise their tax bills, setting up small bases in poor areas to take advantage of the favourable tax regimes but actually providing little employment in those areas.

    That’s assuming that the UK government could get EU approval for such differential tax schemes; the Portuguese government fell foul of the EU over some special tax scheme for the Azores, so it cannot be taken for granted that our national government would have a free hand to devise the best scheme without the EU sticking its nose in.

    From September 2006:

    “In a potentially-ground-breaking verdict, the European Court of Justice on Wednesday ruled that tax breaks awarded by Portugal’s central government to the Azores islands are illegal.”

    • uanime5
      Posted June 24, 2013 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

      Why not just reduce employers’ NI for employees that are employed in poorer areas? That way a company won’t obtain any benefit if they provide little employment in these areas.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted June 24, 2013 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

        Good idea.

        (Treasure this moment, when I actually agree with something you say!)

      • lifelogic
        Posted June 24, 2013 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

        It would make industry less efficient and encourage it to locate in the wrong place. Nearly all such regional tax and subsidy nonsense is damaging in the end.

  9. Nick
    Posted June 24, 2013 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    Yet another politician talking about housing without mentioning the elephant in the room.

    5 million migrants have arrived. That has resulted in shortages.

    Demand up dramatically, supply up small amounts, end result price rises.

    For a free marketeer to ignore Economics 101 and not mention the cause of the problem shows why MPs are unfit to be in charge. That’s left, right and dim witted it the center.

    • Jerry
      Posted June 24, 2013 at 8:21 am | Permalink

      @Nick: Get off your high horse for goodness sake (and thus stop sounding like a recruiting Sargent for the BNP), migrants do not cause housing shortages, government policies, planning laws/rules, builders and most of all the NIMBYs who collectively don’t allow the millions of houses the UK is short of do so.

      • zorro
        Posted June 24, 2013 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

        It is silly to exclude the social costs of excess migration to this country. It is obvious that rents are being pushed up in London because of the increase in population. Other factors are important, but notwithstanding them, migration aggravates these factors…..


        • sm
          Posted June 30, 2013 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

          The facts are obvious, those that under or overplay usually do so for political – not for the sensible policy reasons.

          Its purely a numbers game, whether its £ or people. Maybe we should ask the NSA/GCHQ for the correct numbers?

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted June 24, 2013 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

        Daft comment. Do you suppose that immigrants live in tents, or sleep on park benches? Because they certainly don’t bring houses with them, apart from the very small number whose homes are on wheels.

        • Jerry
          Posted June 25, 2013 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

          @Denis Cooper: It is only daft if you are looking for scapegoats, there is only one reason why there are not enough homes for people to live in, because not enough homes have/are been built. By your logic the baby-boom of the 1950/60s should have caused a housing crisis 20 years of so later – and would have done had there not been enough homes built. immigration causes a population increase, just as a baby-boom does…

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted June 25, 2013 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

            For years we built more than enough new homes to meet our needs, but not enough to meet our needs PLUS the needs of unprecedented numbers of immigrants.

            I can assure you that if I was looking for scapegoats then I wouldn’t start with immigrants, I would start with people like you who think that it’s fine for the government to allow and encourage mass immigration, while knowing full well that we didn’t want it, and who then attempt to deny the (word left out) consequences of that (word left out ed) policy.

          • APL
            Posted June 26, 2013 at 4:28 am | Permalink

            Jerry: “It is only daft if you are looking for scapegoats ..”

            Daft statement number two.

          • Jerry
            Posted June 26, 2013 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

            Denis Cooper: You have really have pinned your anti migrant views to the mast, your politics (at least on this) is a lot further to the right than you might care to admit to yourself.

            What if all the ex pat Brits returned (so as to draw their cold weather benefits [1]…) there would have been no rise in the level of immigration but there would likely be the same housing shortage. Immigration doesn’t cause a housing shortage, failure to build sufficient housing does.

            @APL: Only to those who can’t or have no wish to actually think the issue through.

            [1] and unless the government is also going to change other laws/regulations there will be nothing to stop these people from ‘wintering’ in their warmer climate for 12 weeks over the worst of the UK weather whilst on ‘holiday’.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted June 26, 2013 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

            Yes, Jerry, if a load of British citizens living abroad decided to move back to the UK then that would increase the demand for housing, in exactly the same way as a load of foreign citizens moving here increases demand for housing, and despite your illogical insistence that housing shortages can have nothing whatsoever to do with mass immigration.

            The difference is that in the former case it would be British citizens returning to their own homeland, while in the latter case it would foreign citizens coming to live in somebody else’s homeland.

            There are now about 7 billion such foreign citizens in the world, would you care to say how many of them would be enough to satisfy your appetite for mass immigration into our homeland?

            I realise that this concept of rights associated with citizenship may be difficult for you to grasp, but I can assure you that it is not me, but you, who is right out on a limb on this.

          • Jerry
            Posted June 30, 2013 at 10:25 am | Permalink

            @Denis Cooper: “The difference is that in the former case it would be British citizens returning to their own homeland, while in the latter case it would foreign citizens coming to live in somebody else’s homeland.

            Thank you for confirming that your views are more to do with race than housing…

            Migration doesn’t cause a housing shortage, failure to build enough houses does, how ever much the BNP (type) and “Daily Maul” readership wish to dress their arguments up. Oh and I, like the majority, are most defiant not out on a limb, unthinking people like you are.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted June 30, 2013 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

            Citizenship is a legal status, Jerry, not a race; there are now 60-odd million people of various racial backgrounds who enjoy the legal status of being British citizens, and about 7 billion other people around the world who do not enjoy that legal status and who are foreign citizens; and you have yet to answer my question – how many of those 7 billion foreign citizens would be enough to satisfy your appetite for mass immigration into our homeland?

    • APL
      Posted June 24, 2013 at 10:56 am | Permalink

      Nick: “5 million migrants have arrived. That has resulted in shortages.”

      Yep, not just in housing either, electricity, fuel, water, roads – you name it, the Politicians have ruined it.

    • lifelogic
      Posted June 24, 2013 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      Indeed demand up and supply restricted by planning laws, taxes and over regulation.

  10. Chris
    Posted June 24, 2013 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    So few politicians mention immigration, but this has to be acknowledged and faced up to, with an in depth and honest scrutiny of the figures with estimates for future immigration e.g. from EU accession states. A responsible/competent government would have detailed estimates for likely future immigration, and it should be open about these. The current coyness is not acceptable, and makes the government look incompetent and not in a position to act effectively. Furthermore, the electorate should be given a say on whether they want this inevitable and regular mass inflow of immigrants with all the associated pressures on housing, schools, health service, other infrastructure. What many politicians seem to be doing is to hope, that by not mentioning the very obvious links between population rise through net inflow of population and pressure on resources, that the electorate would not put two and two together. We are not that dumb. Similarly, the politicians should spell out exactly the connection between the regular bouts of mass immigration and EU policy. Honesty please, and a say for the electorate, with all the facts on the table. Only in that way can any referendum result be meaningful.

  11. Gary
    Posted June 24, 2013 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    There are 800,000 empty houses in the country, your own party reported it

    There is no house shortage. There is a distorted bubble economy in london and as a consequence there are few jobs in the country outside of London, and the reason for that is financialization concentrated in London, started by Thatcher and continued since then. This govt with Help To Buy , which is nothing but another bank bailout in disguise, is making the problem worse.

    Until you subject the zombie financial sector to the forces of the free market, you will never solve this problem. But you won’t because the party gets much of it’s funding from the financial sector and many of you worked there.

    • zorro
      Posted June 24, 2013 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

      ‘Help To Buy’ will blow up the market prices and make the situation worse but I am afraid that Tory MPs are scared that people won’t vote for them if nominal house prices fall….


    • Terry
      Posted June 24, 2013 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

      So, Gary, are you you claiming that Mrs T started the “City” then? I think you’ll find that London was the financial centre of the world even during Victorian times. And as far as I know, Mrs T wasn’t around then so she had no say on the matter. Mrs T did create the “Big bang” which removed the chains of red tape, et al and created another world beater for GB. Unfortunately one Gordon Brown removed all the previously installed protective legislation, naively expecting to create the situation of ‘no more “boom and bust’. He had not a clue on what he had done and all the bankers had to do was take advantage of his total ignorance. And the rest is history.

  12. a-tracy
    Posted June 24, 2013 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    Flats are being snapped up in South London by foreign investors using guaranteed buy to let schemes and buying off plan before other buyers are even aware they’re there all that gets left are ground floor or poorly located flats at sky high prices. We’ve seen London properties rise in value £25,000 to £50,000 in just two years, it is unbelievable. Rents are so high unless you travel for over one and a half hours per journey, with poor transport links and/or live outside of London which makes travel very expensive and the toll on your private life high, if you’re not finishing work until 6-7pm and travelling in early to beat the worst commuter times it makes for a very long day and disjointed lifestyle.

    One of the first things successful Mancunians and Liverpudlian’s do seems to be to move out of town, there is such limited entertainment with the majority of big projects centred in London. There were complaints about Media City moving to Salford but the only way to share the jobs and prosperity around is for the people with money to want to live and work in these areas.

    If the government keep guaranteeing rental incomes for social rentals and hoarding all the jobs and amenities in London you will never solve the problem. There may be more affordable housing outside of the capital but if all of the best jobs and career opportunities for England continue to be centred in London what is the point of being able to buy a house in Liverpool?

    Reply Successive governments have spread public sector investmetn and jobs around otuside London, but they cannot stop the private sector preferring London

    • stred
      Posted June 25, 2013 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

      Come to the end of the District line. House prices less than the South Coast, good restaurants, lovely neighbours, and 40 mins to the city.

      • a-tracy
        Posted June 26, 2013 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

        stred Thanks for the tip I’ll pass it on.

    • Chrissy1
      Posted June 25, 2013 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

      The Houses of Parliament should be relocated up country. Problem solved.

    • a-tracy
      Posted June 26, 2013 at 7:54 am | Permalink

      I wonder if research has been carried out to determine how private sector entrepreneurs choose the location of their new enterprises? I know business people when setting up from scratch choose a location within an hour’s travelling distance of where they are, usually so that they can keep on their present job until they’re ready to jump over into their own venture. So if London and the South East sucks in all of the most entrepreneurial graduates why would they suddenly say ‘I know I’ll set my business up in Stoke on Trent’, unless they buy out an established business.

      If you run a business outside of London nearly all high end networking goes on in London, certainly all important, influential business meetings between government and business agencies such as the IOD, CBI, FPB etc take place in London.

      That’s why I feel so many BBC staff wouldn’t move to Manchester/Salford because they’d be out of the promotional, leg up networking loop. I read that a contributor to this blog felt that the only thing suitable to come out of a Manchester base are magazine regional shows as though there is no-one important to interview north of Watford.

  13. David
    Posted June 24, 2013 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    John I agree with
    ” It is also a case of more homes in some places than there are people wishing to live there.”
    However part of the problem is that the Government pays people who don’t work to live in London (and in many cases don’t wish to).
    If you were to say that all pro single mums in London with children under 3 have to move to a cheap part of the country the housing situation would be greatly improved (and you would save a fortune in housing benefit).
    It would also make the UK a fairer place and houses cheaper.

    • uanime5
      Posted June 24, 2013 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      The problem with your plan is that it would create parts of the UK where no one works and where there’s no encouragement to work. Hardly good for the UK in the long run.

      • David
        Posted June 24, 2013 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

        Posted June 24, 2013 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

        The problem with your plan is that it would create parts of the UK where no one works and where there’s no encouragement to work. Hardly good for the UK in the long run.

        If people who don’t work can afford to live in London but people who do work can’t then there is a discouragement to work.
        My plan is not perfect but at least we are not punishing people who work (like the status quo does).

    • Bazman
      Posted June 24, 2013 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

      Would be more expensive for many reasons and how would posh mummys be excluded from this mass class deportation from London?

  14. StrongholdBarricades
    Posted June 24, 2013 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Clearly, the fact that salaries can attract a London Weighting, or extra money for being in the South East can also create a distructive loop. Stop subsidising the economic draw and see businesses locate to the shires

  15. Terry
    Posted June 24, 2013 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    It is clear that Property prices remain far too high. The most reliable gauge of house price is the ratio of average price to average wage in a particular area of the UK. On a National scale the mean, taken over 100 years, is around 4:1 . In other words it is the ‘affordability factor’.
    Today, the average across the UK is £239K (BBC/LRegistry). Avg wage is around £24K (ONS). Now that is more 10:1 rather than 4:1. And this is the main reason why they are too dear. Even when taking the NWBS lower estimate of the average price at £168K, the ratio remains a mind-boggling 7:1.

    The reason for such outrageous valuations is that interest rates are grotesquely too low. Years of diabolical QE, driving down interest rates, have distorted the normal market. Credit is too cheap thus inflating property prices which excessively depend upon the ability of the buyer, to borrow. Low borrowing costs produces the higher prices we can see today.

    If any Government wishes to ensure home prices become affordable, they must raise interest rates and allow the market to take over. Constant tampering with natural Capitalist mechanisms will merely defer the inevitable and exacerbate the outcome. I do not think the real housing bust of Century 21, has finished. The LT avg affordability factor, when applied to the average wage of £24K, implies an average price of around £100K. Surprisingly that was the average just 20 years ago but Gordon Brown’s fiddling and meddling propelled it skyward. And it has not been corrected. Yet.

    • A different Simon
      Posted June 24, 2013 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

      Terry ,

      Restricting personal credit is not the only way of making accommodation more affordable and anyway UK houses and land are increasingly bought by businesses and foreign “investors” .

      Why not tax the value of land so everyone can share in the dividends of land rather than just those who own it ?

      Better to tax natural monopolies like land than to overtax labour isn’t it ?

      It’s not like anyone ever made the land , all that happened was somebody roped it off or staked it out or threw whoever did off it or bought it from them . A right of conquest .

      Just a point but the salary multiple in years gone by was post contribution to pension whereas the multiples you are expressing a pre contribution to pension .

  16. forthurst
    Posted June 24, 2013 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    “Policy needs to find more ways to encourage people to make their homes and find their employment in the great northern towns and cities and in other locations outside London”

    I read that the cap on property rental has meant that Westminster now has to accomodate families in B & B who previously were living the high life under the Labour goverment’s, which has now been adopted by the Coalition with slight modification, ‘please live where taxpayers who pay your costs cant afford to live’ scheme. Some might argue that Westminster is being obliged to pay the expenses of those who not only should not be living in that borough, but also should not be living in this country but should at least be directed to where they can be accomodated at least expense to the taxpayer. As things stand, only those at the top and bottom of society can afford to live in many boroughs, when there are now large swathes of London which are no go areas for people (born here and in normal jobs ed).

    It is quite obvious that this government is absolutely determined not promote the interests of the mad swiveled-eyed loons who voted for them, etc ed

    • forthurst
      Posted June 24, 2013 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      I had a work colleague a few years ago living in Hastings. He spent much of his time and money on a daily commute to an office in S. London. He was pleased to learn the Labour government were considering giving the green light to a major road improvement scheme, and was subsequently disappointed when, realising that once Hastings was no longer cut off from civilisation it might attract a different class of resident with a lesser tendency to vote Labour, they abandoned it.

  17. Neil Craig
    Posted June 24, 2013 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    If we look at the Broad Group’s Sky City One modular design for the world’s tallest building it is clear that unlimited housing can be built at around £50K per home any time the politicians will allow it.

    When the average British builder is spending more money on lawyers fees than on bricks the solution is obvious.

  18. Julian
    Posted June 24, 2013 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Those homes for sale in various towns and cities make interesting reading – although many would be very small presumably (not checked that though!). On the other hand before the pre-house price explosion the usual rule of thumb for average house prices was 3 times average income. Based on approx £25,000 today that makes £75,000 the average whilst the BBC quotes a current figure of £238,000. I think the difference is both the London effect and buy to let.

  19. Terry
    Posted June 24, 2013 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Where are all the postings after 7:55 am today? Is there another problem with this blog?

    • Jerry
      Posted June 24, 2013 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      @Terry: “Where are all the postings after 7:55 am today?

      For Christ sake, give John a chance, he does have a life – and a day job you know. Might I ask when you expect John to have breakfast and travel to work for example?!

      Perhaps you forget that John reads/moderates each and every post before they are published, nothing beyond our ability to post comments seems to be automated.

  20. Jan Maciag
    Posted June 24, 2013 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    And to help the housing situation, central government has introduced CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy) on all new homes. Each local authority sets its own rates on a square metre of new building basis. So in Ealing, where prices are already high, a developer will pay only £35 while in Peterborough (a low price area) the same square metre will cost the buyer £110. The later adding about 10% to the cost of a new home through this new stealth tax.

    Is there any ‘joined up thinking’ going on ina ny government – local and national?

    • Jerry
      Posted June 24, 2013 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

      @Jan Maciag: There doesn’t seem to have been any joined up thinking within government regarding town/home planing policy since probably the 1960s and most definitely not since the mid 1970s.

  21. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted June 24, 2013 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    It’s finding employment in the great northern cities and towns that is the problem. We could transfer more civil service and other public sector jobs northwards, but the problems with the BBC’s relocation to Manchester shows how difficult it is. In any event, we don’t want these regions to be come even more dependent on the public sector.

    We also have the response of London Boroughs to the benefit cap and the ending of the spare rooms subsidy – the transfer of people in social housing to the other end of the country. I suppose that the law of unintended consequences is in operation here, because the effect is to transfer people, many of whom are not in work, to areas of the country where there is limited employment.

    Two measures would probably help (1) Set the benefit cap regionally, not nationally, taking house prices into account and (2) Invest heavily in northern ports and transport infrastructure to and from them. However, there would be protests on (1) from the political left, and on (2) from southern ports such as Tilbury and Southampton.

    • Jerry
      Posted June 24, 2013 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

      Lindsay McDougall: Indeed the BBC’s move to Manchester does teach us some lessons, I understand that once the BBC announced that they were going to move certain departments to Salford Quays there was a house price boom in the area, so moving government departments out of London will not help affordable housing – only a surplus of supply will do that, and this applies to both house sales and rental sectors.

  22. uanime5
    Posted June 24, 2013 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps the Government could encourage certain types of businesses to locate themselves in the main Northern Cities. Though I suspect this would cause certain companies to move from one part of the UK to another part, rather than attract new businesses.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted June 24, 2013 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

      Obviously it would be better to get new businesses started, but even the relocation of existing businesses would help to reduce the disparities.

      • Adan Bert
        Posted July 4, 2013 at 10:04 am | Permalink

        I am agree with you Denis definitely relocation of businesses always helps in the disparities.

    • A different Simon
      Posted June 24, 2013 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

      Uanime5 ,

      How about the Govt leads by example by relocating itself out of London ?

      For the past 35 years all they have done is run the rest of the UK for the benefit of London .

      • Jan Maciag
        Posted June 25, 2013 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

        The government could move to Brussels. It would make it easier for the EU to give it directives.

        Then, when we leave Europe we could leave the uk government with them too.

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted June 25, 2013 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

      Do you remember Linwood and Ravenscraig? As a result of regional subsidies, two white elephants were created. I think that Nissan etc. and the high tech operations at Livingston, which have been driven by private enterprise, are better role models.

  23. Bazman
    Posted June 24, 2013 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    All you bleating Southerners could Move to Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria. Low crime, near the Lake District, numerous beaches. and lots of pubs and entertainment. The price of property has doubled in recent years, but look at the prices. Especially 100k. Now get on your bikes and find yourself a house.

  24. Mactheknife
    Posted June 26, 2013 at 1:12 pm | Permalink


    I think this subject has been covered before on several occasions. London has and always will attract international investment from individuals and businesses. I work for a US company and some of the people actually think the UK is just London. They have never heard of other major cities and towns in the UK.

    With modern day communications there is no reason for government departments to be based in London. The government could also offer tax breaks and incentives for companies to broaden their horizon beyond the south east. Local authorities should be made to give up the land they are sitting on for free to companies willing to invest.

    The government should also protect UK companies by providing them with government contracts. Our EU colleagues do it, and nothing is ever said about it !! Think Bombarier in Derby who lost a major contract .

    In my town we have lost 25000 jobs in the last 25 years in manufacturing and heavy industry and the local council continuously announce one initiative after another and none ever seem to get off the ground. I wrote to them and suggested for one of their developments that they give parcels of land away free to developers on the understanding that they abide by the development brief and can begin construction straight away, instead of trying to sell or rent land with associated high support costs I.e. business rates etc. Want to know their reply ? I do as we’ll because nobody ever responded.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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