What Britain Wants – Somewhere to Live (BBC Panorama programme 9th March 2015)

Is the housing crisis one of the big political issues politicians don’t want to talk about in the run up to the General Election in May 2015?  Perhaps.

In Britain we’re not building enough new homes, and we haven’t done so for years. Mariella Frostrup asks people from Glasgow, Cardiff and Birmingham for their views on the housing crisis for this second Panorama programme.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006t14n

Mariella writes:

I bought my first flat in London when I was 21, and it cost about four times the very ordinary salary I was earning.  In the past few weeks, I’ve been back to my old place. …  The flat is unchanged in lots of ways, but transformed in one – today, the young person that I was wouldn’t have a chance of buying it. At about £400,000, it costs maybe 15 times the salary I’d be earning in an equivalent job today.

Mariella Frostrup ‘Viewpoint: The disappearing property ladder ‘ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-31762127 BBC News

Why do we have a crisis?

The BBC also has an article by which helps to explain the reasons why we have a housing crisis [Why can’t the UK build 240,000 houses a year? BBC News

These are the reasons de Castella gives:

  1. Planning permission: Difficult to get due to local opposition and slow process to get from outline to detailed planning consent.
  2. Land shortage: Local authorities fail to identify enough potential sites and land prices for those available are too high to make housing affordable.
  3. Developers sit on land: House builders often buy more land than they build on immediately.  That way they can release houses on to the market slowly and keep the prices high.
  4. The state no longer builds: Up to the 1970s local authorities were building 100,000 homes a year and since then the private sector has never entirely plugged that gap.
  5. Housing Associations have had a limited impact because so many regulations apply only to them (e.g. on rents, valuations, leases, borrowing).
  6. Skill and material shortages: A lot of construction workers left the industry during the financial crisis building bust (2008).  Demand for building materials slumped, so production had to be curtailed.  An upsurge in building means people have to be trained and bricks manufactured.
  7. Fewer smaller builders: Restrictions on bank lending following the financial crisis meant smaller companies disappeared and bigger ones built less.

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