I have spoken before about building homes in the UK, and about how the solution is neither complicated nor subject to a single issue, magic bullet, solution as too many people seem to think.
I don’t intent to say too much here, but the recent article in The London Evening Standard by Anthony Hilton (6th May 2014) has prompted me to repeat the following figures:
In its 4 year life, the Coalition Government has allocated about £5 billion to building homes but has spend roughly £95 billion on Housing Benefit. There are 4.99 million Housing Benefit claiments, which is nearly 1/5th of the 26.4 million households in the UK.
We have got to get back to subsidising the building of new housing stock (which is what we used to do when we were building over 300,000 homes a year). instead of subsidising rents which is what we are now doing (with only about 100,000 homes a year being built).
Of these 300,000 odd homes per year pre 1980s, roughly half were built by local councils – in 2013 local councils build around 1000 homes.
The Government’s latest ‘solution’ to the housing crisis is ‘Self-Build’. Although self-build (or self-commission) does have a role to play, and should be encouraged, this is really only tinkering with the problem. To get the number of homes we need we must start putting money into the actual building of them, and get back to making local authorities responsible for direct delivery.