Monday, October 21, 2013

None of our politicians have a clue

So we have a Labour party who are talking about a cost of living crisis. Good on them. Until you hear their main policy, which seems to be fixing the cost of energy. I’m pretty sure the talk of the lights going out are completely alarmist, but I doubt trying to fix prices is going to work, the fact is fossil fuel costs go up and down and no politician can stop that happening.

But Ed is missing the point a little anyway. For most people, energy is a big cost but it’s generally outweighed by something else, housing. We hear a lot about energy price rises, but not so much about rises in rent. And if house prices go up, that’s a good thing apparently? As a home owner, I don’t get it. If I want to move up the ladder, higher prices mean I need a bigger mortgage to move anywhere. First time buyers presumably don’t want higher prices. As a parent, I don’t want housing to be completely unaffordable for my child when she gets to an age when she wants her own place. Yes, there are people who gain from house price rises, but I’m pretty sure they are outnumbered by people who would actually gain from falling prices.

But enough of the Labour party, what have the Conservatives got to offer? Oh yes, Help To Buy, the scheme that seems most people are a little concerned about. Apparently it may cause a new housing bubble. What the ….? We haven’t escaped the last bubble yet. We are still number one in the housing bubble stakes. What George seems to have missed is that the problem with our housing market is not a demand problem, there’s plenty of demand. The problem is not enough houses are being built and the ones that are being built cost too much!

So what’s the solution? First, the British need to get over their obsession with house prices and realise houses are a place to live, not pay for their retirement. Second, we need to radically change our planning laws, so we can build a lot more houses. Third, the government needs to start building some council houses.

The sad thing is none of this looks likely to happen. No political party is going to say “We will build houses in your back yard and let other people do the same and the price of your property will then fall, but in the long run it will be good for the country”

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