New homes and more households

When the Conservatives last left office, in 1996-7, the UK started work on 195,000 new homes that year. Net migration was running at just 50,000 a year. It meant that there were additional homes to allow for new household formation, as young people left their parents’ houses, and as some people divorced.

By 2009/10, the last Labour year in government, new homes started had slumped to just 124,000. Meanwhile net migration surged to well over 250,000. The UK was not building nearly enough new homes to keep pace with the rate of entry into the country by new arrivals, let alone to keep up with the needs of young people and  those wishing to live on their own who were already settled here .

Last year new homes started reached 160,000, still well below the level needed if we are to keep up with current migration levels. Fortunately Mr Cameron has made clear his wish to take further measures to get migration down to more manageable numbers. It will be part of his renegotiation with the rest of the EU if Conservatives win the election. The parties who do not favour limiting migration in the way proposed by Mr Cameron have to explain just how many homes they would need to build, and  where they might be planning to build them. It is also difficult to see how they would be financed.

The last coalition government did take measures to control students coming to bogus colleges. More can be done to limit non EU migration by controlling the issue of permits to come and work here. The EU may well agree to changes to rules concerning the payment of top up benefits to recently arrived migrants who have not paid in to the UK system. It seems to be accepting tightening of the rules about those without work who say they are seeking work. The renegotiation will also need to include discussion of access  to benefits for those seeking unskilled jobs and low skilled jobs which might be needed by people already here.

The measures taken to ease mortgage credit, help with deposits and reward those saving for a home of their own will assist. Some worry that any measure merely fuels further price rises. The main issue rem ains bringing supply and demand for homes into better balance. It is difficult to see how you can do this without some better controls on net migration.


  1. Lifelogic
    April 3, 2015

    We need fewer people or more homes that much is surely blindingly obvious.

    You say it will be part of Cameron’s renegotiation with the rest of the EU if Conservatives win the election. Well I thought he had already said he does not even want to try to renegotiate that any way it is clear he will not anything substantial on it.

    My impression of last night’s debate was why one earth were the LibDems, the Greens and the regional parties even there – with their tiny levels of support.

    Farage was clearly the only one there who was prepared to tell the truth. Cameron was solid, competent and statesman like but simply has the wrong “Labour/Libdum light” policies.

    I thought all three women on the panel were dreadful. If these are typical of female political leaders they are hardly a good advert for having even more of them.

    Miliband was his usual pathetic self. All appeals to irrational emotion, envy, jealousy, a hatred of the rich and for a return to Labour’s tax borrow and piss down the drain policies – that created the mess in the first place. Also his usual dishonest confusion of “millionaires” with people who earn a million a year.

    But then Cameron repeated his “in the black” claim when he merely meant that the deficit would be eliminated. As he promised last time and failed to deliver.

    The country is crying out for something between Cameron and Farage, but thanks to Cameron’s wet agenda, it look like we will have to suffer the hopeless Miliband.

    Another sitting duck election shortly to be lost all for Cameron’s lack of a working compass. A compass pointing to far less EU, far less government waste, lower taxes for all, far fewer regulations, a smaller state sector that actually works, a fair deal for the English, a return to UK democracy and far cheaper energy without all the green religion crap.

    1. A different Sinon
      April 5, 2015

      “I thought all three women on the panel were dreadful. ”

      Do you reckon it is coincidence that Wee Nicola has copied Angela Merkel’s hairstyle ?

      I suspect that subconsciously a few of us may have taken her more seriously because of it .

  2. Cheshire Girl
    April 3, 2015

    At the rate we are going, in a few years time the whole country will be concreted over and all the services will collapse.
    For God’s sake, when will someone get a grip!

    1. Timaction
      April 3, 2015

      There is NO plan to provide the unknown number of migrants who will come and take health, education and housing services for free from the British taxpayer. There is no infrastructure plan alongside all the new builds so the public service pot will shrink per capita. Doctors appointment? A&E waits? Specialist waiting lists? School of your choice? How many languages in each class room? Will this help the education needs of British children?
      Only one party has the patriotic interests of the British people. The rest have sold out to the EU dictatorship.

  3. Iain Gill
    April 3, 2015

    The average house is worth 3 times the average salary. Immigration is massively out of control. There is far too much government manipulation of house prices. This is unsustainable. Private sector tenants are being abused by both poor quality landlords and the state.

    The political class is letting us all down.

    1. Lifelogic
      April 3, 2015

      What is wrong with the average house being worth 3 times the average salary. They take about 3 man years to build, make the materials and get the land and planning – if you want more supply of them they have to cost about that multiple. More with all the over the top green crap building and planning regulations.

      1. Iain Gill
        April 3, 2015

        The average house costs rather more than 3 times the average salary in our heavily manipulated market.
        Its nonsense fairy land values.

        1. libertarian
          April 3, 2015

          Iain Gill

          Really? Explain what the real value of a house is and why then.

      2. Bazman
        April 4, 2015

        A large part of the shortage has been caused the right to buy policy and the failure of this previous governments to replace these houses.
        The idea that houses only cost 3X the average wage is your own delusion lierlogic. Where does this hold true except for a one or two geographically isolated areas with high unemployment and as for mass production of cheap property did the 1960’s slums never happen?
        If you take cars as an example as you do look how much better a 2015 car is over a 1960’s and look at their prices allowing for inflation. You are dead against any regulations such as those which helped improve cars to what they are now and see any improvement on houses as expensive and unnecessary. How do you square this of with car evolution. 1960’s cars are more simple and efficient? Get real?
        You say you often understand my arguments. This one is very clear for you.

        1. Edward2
          April 5, 2015

          Nothing stopping churches, charities, trade unions, housing associations and Local Authorities going out borrowing money and building new houses or renovating old stock.
          You keep telling us how lucrative it is for wicked profiteering landlords.

          1. Bazman
            April 6, 2015

            Most of the buy to let has fallen into the hand of large private landlords, though the majority of landlords are one house landlords scrapping by. The worst of both worlds. I notice that you do not mention the state building more and collecting rent instead of paying billions out in rent subsidies?
            If you are going to pay that much out you may as well run and own the job too.

          2. Edward2
            April 7, 2015

            Assume for a moment the State enters the property market and rents out many homes.
            If it charged market rents then there would be no saving.
            If it charged a lower subsidised rent then the saving in housing benefit would be balanced out by the loss made by low rental income.

          3. Bazman
            April 7, 2015

            About as complete as you internet knowledge. Simplistic economics that fools nobody. There would be no loss made by low rental income as the saving of money paid to private landlords sky high rents would easily cover it. Rent was often a source of income for councils too funding lower council taxes and other projects.

    2. Lifelogic
      April 3, 2015

      Even a new car used to cost nearly one years average wage, we just need to find efficient (perhaps production line) methods to build houses rather more cheaply using cheaper materials and less labour. Above all relaxing planning and OTT building controls.

      Also a modern home is often a rather more sophisticated and efficient piece of equipment than it used to be with central heating, better insulation, double glazing, efficient and extensive lighting, better security, ventilation & heat recovery systems, water and sewage treatment systems, condensation boilers, high pressure instant hot water, power showers, excessive bathrooms and much else.

    3. Mondeo Man
      April 3, 2015

      Average houses are not three times average LOCAL salary.

      In London they are around 10x average salary.

      I cannot believe that the Tory party is helping to ramp up prices by enabling borrowing.

      Debt piled upon debt – at times of record low interest.

      1. libertarian
        April 3, 2015

        Mondeo Man

        I think you just answered you’re own question

  4. Liz
    April 3, 2015

    Ed Milliband’s promise to bring back some controls into the private rental market probably struck a chord with many young people. Blocks of starter home flats are being bought up by overseas investors – people from places where British people cannot buy property themselves. Parts of London are dark due to houses being bought as investments by overseas buyers who do not live in them. Many of the liberal left who favour large scale immigration are also opposed to large scale house building. Where exactly do they expect people to live? These situations cannot continue unless we want serious civil unrest, shanty towns or both

  5. Brian Tomkinson
    April 3, 2015

    At last you begin to address the demand side of the housing problem. However, your assurance that “Mr Cameron has made clear his wish to take further measures to get migration down to more manageable numbers. It will be part of his renegotiation with the rest of the EU”, rings very hollow. You may like us to forget your party’s pledge to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands, as you clearly did once elected, to the extent that it is now 3 times what you promised. Immigration control is not compatible with membership of the EU. I should think that on this your position is much closer to UKIP’s than the Conservative party’s but you would never dare admit it.

  6. stred
    April 3, 2015

    Could you please explain why the help to buy scheme included anyone from anywhere and was up to £600k? This allows rich foreign buyers to take up the expensive flats in London on preferential terms and, if the market goes sour after the bubble, the British taxpayer will have to guarantee the value to the banks. Could Oz have been taking advice from the building and bank lobby, or did he think it up himself?

  7. forthurst
    April 3, 2015

    The problem is one of credibility. Cameron has had five years to bring immigration under control and he has conspicuously failed; last year’s immigration was six hundred and twenty thousand that we have actually been told of, far high than when Labour’s Peter Mandelson bragged, ‘We were sending out search parties for people’. The problem of uncontrolled immigration will only get worse as yet more EU citizens whose countries’ Eurozone membership blocks meaningful recovery, seek a better life in a country whose fiscal policies are not controlled by the troika, and as yet more ex-citizens of the Bolshevik Empire qualify for the EU granted previlege of free movement; as the neocons are determined to cause endless grief for the peoples of the ME and elsewhere, presumably until they manage to institute WWIII, yet more people who have had their present lives destroyed, will wish to seek refuge and a new start in Europe, arriving via Europe’s soft underbelly whence financially strapped and less rigorous regimes will be only to happy to expedite their transit, passing the burden on to us.

    House prices in many parts of the country are suffering from a gross imbalance of supply and demand as new arrivals decide were they want to live in direct competition with those who are already here. It is incomers that have been making house prices unaffordable for young people and pathetic vote grabbing gimmicks will do nothing to address the problem. Gibbering about restricting access to benefits is all very well, but people still expect a roof over their heads; they still expect healthcare and education and still expect to be able to buy a car and travel and, by the way, they will also expect to turn on the lights when it’s dark.

    We have a desperate need for politicans who are prepared to tackle the very real difficulties facing the people of this country, particularly the youth, by implementing policies which, in most cases, are the reverse of what they have been doing; such people were conspicuous by their almost total absence in the Leaders’ debate last night: instead, we were offered promises to do better and perform better with nothing but dire track records to back them; we were offered a renegotation with Brussels which has no intention of affording a meaningful negotation and a referendum on membership of the EU when none of the main party leaders wish to leave it and with a BBC with its own political agenda which it broadcasts 24/7 at our expense, including abolishing our country and replacing it with regions of a single European state .

    1. stred
      April 4, 2015

      Immigration from the EU may become a greater problem, but figures from the HoC paper released this Feb show that the majority of immigrants came from outside the EU. In my experience many NHS staff speak with African accents or are from SE Asia or Pacific areas. Given the fact that we export our home trained doctors and nurses and prefer to pinch them from poorer nations, it is hardly surprising that large numbers are involved and families follow. Other countries train their doctors and require them to stay and work at home for a period. I suppose that, as English medical students have to pay 5x £9k for fees and twice this for expenses + the lack of earnings for 5 years- say £220k, it would be unfair to expect home trained doctors to stay here.

  8. alan jutson
    April 3, 2015

    What a bloody mess we have got our Country in.

    Just because politicians allow Europe to rule what we do, we seem to have to allow more people here.

    We simply do not have, and never will have enough houses here for an open door policy.

    The NHS is overloaded and cannot cope.

    The the Schools are overloaded and cannot cope.

    The roads are overcrowded and cannot cope.

    Our Trains are overloaded and cannot cope.

    The Benefits and Welfare system is overloaded and cannot cope.

    We are at the present overloaded with people, will somebody please get real.

    We now need to stop people coming here for a good many years, its as simple as that !

    We already have thousands of people living in back garden sheds in some outer London areas, how much more of a warning do we need, that we are at the moment overcrowded for the facilities and infrastructure we have.

  9. graham1946
    April 3, 2015

    I know you are fighting an election and for a Conservative victory, but surely, John, you don’t actually believe or indeed expect us to believe all that guff about re-negotiation and bringing down immigration levels from the EU, let alone having a straightforward referendum on it.? You know it will be bent and the CBI and all the others who were wrong about the EU being a trading block and about joining the Euro will again be wheeled out to try to frighten the public, just as they are now to try to swing the election.

    The politicians keep saying that without immigration our NHS etc. will fall apart, whilst studiously avoiding the fact that most immigration from Europe is low grade, low education, from the former communist countries, not doctors and nurses which mainly come from further afield like the Philippines and are the ones your government is trying to keep out.

    Only Farage is credible on this matter, but you all demonise him rather than engage with his ideas, so terrified of him are you. Why would this be so, when you think he will take only one or two seats?

    Regarding building, again last night, only Farage was credible on building on brown field sites. Your government has given carte-blanche to build on greenfield sites with Pickles instructions to local councils that they must rule in favour of any development asked for, where the council cannot prove a 5 year building land bank, which most can’t.
    Cowboy planners are scouring the country for councils in this position and for farmers wishing to sell good agricultural land for this purpose. You need to get a grip. Your government does not even understand what it is doing.

    1. stred
      April 4, 2015

      I have a small brownfield site in the oversized back garden of flats. A small single storey home would not overlook or affect anyone. The first thing this government did was to reverse the Labour decision to allow permission for such sites, of which there are many. Needless to say, the big builders are not interested in small sites but hold large land banks. Another area where housing would be possible is the land banks for hypermarkets, which are now being cancelled. However, planning rules would require change of use, and this would take years in the UK.

      1. graham1946
        April 4, 2015

        There is no need for it to take years, but you are right, it will. They knocked away local councils’ defence of green land at a stroke by making them have 5 year land bank before they can object and even if they refuse permission, govt. Inspectors are overruling it on this basis. The govt. could do it for brown field too , but of course their mates in the building industry are not interested in this so it doesn’t get done. Who says you can’t buy legislation?
        What happened to Cameron’s localism? Went the same way as his hug a hoodie or stroke a husky presumably.

  10. John E
    April 3, 2015

    We are living longer and in smaller households so we need more homes irrespective of immigration. The reason for the artificially high prices is the planning system. Please focus some attention on reforming that.

    1. Denis Cooper
      April 3, 2015

      Demand for housing increased by mass immigration; wages depressed by mass immigration; inflation subdued by the compression of wages, feeding through to lower interest rates and raised prices for assets, including houses; basically it’s a triple whammy for the majority so that one minority can pursue their personal profit and another minority can pursue their ideological aims.

      1. stred
        April 4, 2015

        D.C. Not too sure about depressing wages by EU too much. Two of my boilers have worn out and, as usual, just as I try to have a short holiday. I buy the boiler and bits for around £600, then pay for fitting by a Corgiman. The first wanted £845, the second £500, both English. The last, East European and here for a long time, wanted £350. The time needed is one day. The last one took half a day. Allowing for holidays, the cheapest would be earning 40% more than a university professor.

  11. lojolondon
    April 3, 2015

    Dear John. Please dump that ‘net migration’ figure. Immigration was around 624000 last year, with emmigration running at 327,000. This leaves “net migration’ at 298,000, but that is very far from the full story, I am sure you will agree?
    As the best destination in the world for slack checking, political correctness, extravagant benefits, and tolerant society, the UK is like a magnet for the poorest and least educated people in the world (sympathy to them). At the same time, for the same reason, all the 300k people who left are highly skilled, high earners and almost certainly 45% taxpayers. So, as we open the doors to more and more economically unproductive people, meanwhile training top skills and having them leave before they deliver value to our society, you can see neither figure is good news, but it is really disingenious to nett them off against each other.

  12. behindthefrogs
    April 3, 2015

    I fail to understand why a small market town like Wokingham is being forced to take such a large percentage of the extra houses required. The first priority should be to preserve the local environment. This should not be at the expense of providing houses for immigrants from the rest of the south east.
    The candidates who show themselves to understand this will receive my vote in both the general and local elections.

    Reply The Labour government who required Wokingham to take a large number of extra homes did so because developers wished to build there and people wished to buy there. I agree we need to cut migrant numbers and reduce the pressure to build in Wokingham.

    1. alan jutson
      April 3, 2015


      Building in Wokingham was the idea/policy of a certain Mr Prescot, who probably suffers from Conservative Southern Market Town envy.

  13. Denis Cooper
    April 3, 2015

    According to UKIP we need to build a new house every 7 minutes just to cope with the effects of immigration. I do the arithmetic and find that this would mean 75,000 new homes a year if the builders worked around the clock every day of the year, which I assume is the basis for the UKIP calculation leading to that soundbite. Compare that with the 160,000 new starts last year, and it means that nearly half of the new houses being built are only needed because the government, the present coalition government just like the last Labour government, has knowingly allowed and encouraged mass immigration from abroad far in excess of what the established body of citizens would deem acceptable according to repeated opinion polls, an order of magnitude greater than what the great majority of the population would be happy with.

    I listen to the proponents of this mad and fundamentally anti-democratic policy talking, and they refuse to even recognise that with a world population of 7 billion and rising there have to be limits on immigration, and effective border controls so that those limits can be maintained, and apparently they think it is the role of the British people to make sure that adequate resources are available to cope with the multiple adverse effects of the mass immigration that they, the politicians, want but the people do not want.

    Even with Cameron, supposedly tough on immigration and criticised for that, not only does he refuse to recognise that however he tries to tweak the system he will not be able to limit immigration from the rest of the EU for as long as we remain in the EU, he has also invited the entire youth of India to come here to study and then stay on afterwards provided they can get jobs paying not much less than average wages.

    I am not happy with UKIP’s immigration policy, as it now appears to be, because I think we should be looking at gross immigration not net, and before we start checking whether would-be immigrants score enough points to warrant admission we have to set an upper limit for the number of places to be made available each year, which indeed is what the Australians do, and the people, the citizens, should set that upper limit in a referendum rather than having a politician pluck their own number out of the air.

    However, despite these flaws in UKIP’s immigration policy it is still the one which comes closest to what I want. Indeed if we did have a referendum on what level of immigration we would prefer personally I would vote for zero immigration, and I do mean gross immigration not net, for at least the next two decades, to give us a chance to recover from the havoc caused over the past two decades.

    1. outsider
      April 3, 2015

      Dear Mr Cooper, Agree with your drift, though Ukip’s 75,000 extra homes for 250-300,000 net immigrants does not sound anything like enough for civilised life, given that a high percentage are young single people. More like 120-150,000.

      If gross immigration were targeted, foreign students should be under a separate regime, because education is a significant export growth industry. That might be helpful in giving schools and universities an incentive to ensure that the vast majority of student returned home after completing their course. For instance, the gross intake of foreign students could be limited to 15-20 per cent higher than the numbers returning home in the previous summer.

      The idea of zero gross immigration for a period, though superficially attractive for curbing total population, is impractical as well as, in my view, undesirable. Inter alia, it would mean denying expatriate citizens (82,000 in the latest 12 months) the right to return home as well as denying asylum to anyone and forcing citizens who married foreigners to live abroad.

      1. Denis Cooper
        April 3, 2015

        In my view foreign students should be classified as “temporary residents” and should not be included as “immigrants” until they have finished their courses and apply to stay on rather than going home as almost all of them should do, and nor should returning ex-patriates, UK citizens, be treated as “immigrants”. Nor indeed should tourists, or foreign workers on fixed term short secondments, or seasonal workers, be treated as “immigrants” as though they all intended to stay permanently. All of that just muddies the waters when they need to be clarified.

        Note that I said I would cast my own vote for zero gross immigration if the government ever had the grace to ask us what we wanted in a referendum, but I would be doing that in the knowledge that a small number of others would vote for very high levels of immigration and it would only be by voting for zero that I could do my bit towards fully counteracting their pernicious influence. I would actually expect the median result of any such referendum to be in the tens of thousands.

  14. outsider
    April 3, 2015

    Dear Mr Redwood, It is very disappointing that even you put the blame on EU treaty obligations for your Government’s failure to curb net immigration. You will know that, in the year to September, net immigration from outside the EU was officially measured at 190,000, which was 17 per cent higher than net immigration from the rest of the EU over the same period.
    The message is that nothing effective could be done because of the EU obligation for free movement of people, a principle so central to the European idea that it is not really negotiable. This is a false cover for what appears to be a consensus policy of free immigration for anyone who will contribute to skilled employment and taxes and help to keep wages low.
    There is no area where the political class is more at odds with the electorate.

  15. Bazman
    April 4, 2015

    The problem with all of this is how do any of the parties plan to stop migration and should they? Most migrants come from EU countries and come here to work, benefit cuts are not relevant to them in the main.
    The illegals are exactly that. Illegal.
    The EU migrants are either here to do low paid unskilled work that most British will not do or it is not viable for them to do. Low paid work in central London for example of farm work in the East Anglia.
    The other jobs are often done by young skilled and qualified EU citizens that are better workers than the British. Employers should be stopped from using them? Why?
    In both cases there is little that can be done in the real world and blaming lazy British and EU citizens for taking their jobs is for the birds, but my main point is how forgners are going to be stopped from coming here to work. Until this is said by the fantasists they should shut up with their whining and I see no comments on rich forgners coming here and buying up property in London causing large rises further down the chain and in a large number of cases is just a laundromat for stolen money hidden by shell companies. The owner being allow d to hide their true identity changes to this the Tories blocked. Didn’t they John?

    1. Edward2
      April 5, 2015

      You change the law.

      1. Bazman
        April 5, 2015

        By making illegal immigration illegal edward and what about employers being made to employ lower grade employees or not being able to find employees with certain skills. Could be bad for business? As for taking jobs in my wifes case unless you are able to speak fluent English, Russian and German and live within a commutable distance then she is not taking anyone job and in fact her employer runs a revolving door recruitment policy hiring and firing foreign speaking temps at will. So what will his business do with deadbeat locals who struggle with English?

        1. Edward2
          April 5, 2015

          Well we could have a similar controlled level of immigration to many other soveriegn nations.
          The current level is not sustainable long term.
          We need immigration. Employers need the best staff for their success in world markets.
          But not several hundred thousand new arrivals per year.
          But I accept it is very difficult to alter the situation whilst current EU arrangements are in force.

  16. William Gruff
    April 4, 2015

    I’m a floating voter and I’m not entirely stupid so I’m looking carefully at the useful information offered by the parties putting up candidates for election and one thing I’ve noticed, well two things actually, is that each party asks me to believe that life was idyllic when it last had control of the nation’s finances and anything we now find disagreeable is entirely due to those cads on the other side of the House, and the other thing is that they’re all going to create economic equilibrium by taxing the rich more and us less and spending more while spending less and giving us more of a very little of something they’ve legislated to deprive us of, in great measure, some time ago, which makes three things.

    I’m a floating voter and I’m not entirely stupid and one thing I’ve noticed, well two things actually, is that however many fingers the lying politician before me holds up, I can only ever see what my brain tells me my eyes report, no matter how hard the jackboot grinds my spectacles into my face, and no matter how many elections they lose politicians seem incapable of understanding that one day we’ll cotton on and then they’ll lose no more.

    I wish you luck in the contest and I hope the wishes of the majority in the constituency you have so often represented prevail.

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