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The Housing Crisis: Can Political Promises Really Address the Lack of Supply and Affordability?

An interview with a mystery guest.

 

Q: What is the current state of the housing market in England?

A: The housing market in England is showing signs of recovery after a slowdown in 2023, when lockdown measures and high mortgage rates affected the demand and supply of properties. According to the latest official figures, the average house price in England decreased by 2.1% in the 12 months to December 2023, but rose by 2.5% in the year to January 202412.


Q: So what do you think is driving these changes?

A: The annual increase was driven by areas outside London and the south-east, which have experienced a correction in prices in recent years. Lower mortgage rates, fading inflationary pressures, and a resilient labour market have also contributed to increased confidence among buyers and sellers.


Q: So are houses becoming more affordable?

A: Affordability challenges remain, as demand still exceeds supply and interest rates are elevated compared with historic lows. Private rents have also soared by 6.2% in the 12 months to January 2024, especially in London. The outlook for the housing market in 2024 is more positive, but uncertainty in the economic environment could still affect the trends.


Q: What's the story behind property developers allegedly fixing house prices?

A: There have been allegations that some of the UK’s biggest housebuilders have been sharing confidential information on sales prices and rates, which could influence the supply and demand of new homes. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched an investigation into this matter, as well as other issues affecting the quality and affordability of new properties. The CMA said that it found evidence of potential information sharing during its year-long probe into the housebuilding sector in England, Wales and Scotland. The housebuilders being investigated are Barratt, Bellway, Berkeley, Bloor Homes, Persimmon, Redrow, Taylor Wimpey and Vistry. The CMA has not yet reached any conclusions as to whether or not competition law has been broken.


Q: What can be done to help first time buyers?

A: The CMA’s investigation comes at a time when the housing market is recovering from a slowdown in 2023, but still faces challenges such as high mortgage rates, low supply, and rising rents. Some experts have argued that the government needs to intervene more to increase the availability and affordability of housing, especially for first-time buyers and low-income households. Others have suggested that the new build premium, which is the difference between the price of a new home and a similar existing one, is too high and should be reduced. The average price of a new build in England was £388,140 in October 2023, compared to £287,452 for an existing property.


Q: How do we as a country fix the undersupply and overpriced problems that make it so difficult for first time buyers to get onto the property ladder?

A: There is no simple answer to this question, as the housing crisis in the UK is a complex and multifaceted problem that requires a range of solutions. However, some of the possible measures that could help address the issues of undersupply and overpricing are:

These are some of the ideas that have been proposed by various experts, organisations and campaigners to tackle the housing crisis in the UK. However, they also require political will, public support and long-term vision to be implemented effectively.


Q: So which UK political party should I vote for if I want these changes to be implemented?

A: That is a personal decision that depends on your values, preferences and opinions. However, I can provide you with some information on the housing policies of the main parties, based on their manifestos and statements. You can use this information to compare and contrast their views and proposals, and make an informed choice. Here is a summary of the housing policies of the main parties:

  • Conservative party: The Conservatives have pledged to continue to increase the number of homes being built, with a target of 300,000 homes per year by the mid-2020s1. They have also introduced the Renters (Reform) Bill, which aims to abolish no-fault evictions, introduce rolling tenancies, and improve the quality and accessibility of rented properties2. The Conservatives have also promised to support first-time buyers with schemes such as Help to Buy, First Homes and a new mortgage guarantee scheme3. However, they have rejected calls for rent controls, and have not committed to building more social and affordable homes.

  • Labour party: Labour has promised to build 100,000 council homes and 50,000 affordable homes per year by 2024, with a focus on quality, sustainability and community-led development5. They have also proposed a Renters’ Charter, which would offer more security, affordability and rights for tenants, such as ending no-fault evictions, introducing rent controls, and allowing pets and reasonable alterations5. Labour has also pledged to help first-time buyers with schemes such as FirstBuy, which would offer discounted homes to local people and key workers5. In addition, Labour has vowed to regulate the holiday home and short-term let market, abolish the leasehold system, and upgrade the energy efficiency of homes.

  • Liberal Democrats: The Liberal Democrats have committed to building 300,000 homes per year by 2024, including 100,000 social homes, using innovative and green methods of construction. They have also proposed to reform the private rental sector by introducing a Help to Rent scheme, which would provide government-backed tenancy deposit loans for young people, and a Rent to Own model, which would allow tenants to build up ownership of their property over 30 years. The Liberal Democrats have also promised to help first-time buyers with schemes such as a new Rent to Buy fund, which would provide long-term, low-interest loans to housing associations to build homes for rent and sale. Furthermore, the Liberal Democrats have pledged to end the cladding scandal, introduce a new regulator for the private rental sector, and improve the energy efficiency of homes.

  • Green party: The Green party has committed to building 100,000 new social rented homes per year, with high standards of design, accessibility and environmental performance. They have also proposed to introduce a Living Rent for all tenants, which would be no more than a third of their household income, and to scrap no-fault evictions and unfair fees. The Green party has also promised to help first-time buyers by offering them a government-backed mortgage with a fixed interest rate of 2%, and to create a Community Right to Buy scheme, which would enable local communities to purchase land and property for social and environmental purposes. Moreover, the Green party has pledged to ban the sale of new leasehold properties, regulate the holiday home and short-term let market, and retrofit all homes to the highest energy efficiency standards.

  • Brexit party: The Brexit party has not published a full manifesto, but has released a list of policies, which include building more houses to create a property-owning democracy, and prioritising brownfield sites and protecting the green belt. They have also proposed to abolish inheritance tax, which they claim would help more people to pass on their homes to their children. The Brexit party has not specified any policies on the private rental sector, social and affordable housing, or energy efficiency.


I hope this information helps you to compare the housing policies of the main parties. You can find more details on their websites or in their manifestos. Please note that this is not a comprehensive or definitive list of policies, and that they may change or be updated over time. You should also consider other factors, such as the credibility, feasibility and cost of the policies, as well as the parties’ positions on other issues that matter to you. Ultimately, the decision is yours to make.


Did you guess who I was interviewing? Top marks for guessing an AI (Artificial Intelligence) Chat Bot. The one I used just appeared on my laptop, uninvited and until this morning unused. (I run the latest edition of Windows 11 with Office 365 installed. The AI software is called Copilot and the edition I used is marked as a “preview”).


Will I be upset if it gets more hits on the blog than I do? No, not really. At the end of the day this so called “intelligence” is nothing of the kind. What it has done is simply trawl the internet and then lifted relevant tracts from various source. Not so much Artificial Intelligence as Industrialised Plagiarism?


Does it raise any useful facts? Yes, I think it does, but you have still have to put in the time yourself, click on the links that interest you and put some genuine effort into further research. I should add I edited the above "Interview" a bit to make it slightly less "robotic". But then I asked it to generate the image of a robot writing a story, which captures the "mood" perfectly.


As a footnote I should also add that when I opened my Wix Blog Editor it spontaneously offered to generate the title for me using AI, so I put in the parameters and it came up with the title.


What do you think?


 

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What do I think? I think your AI thingy seriously needs updating! There has been no Brexit Party for over three years. I believe it's now called Reform UK.

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AI makes lots of silly mistakes. The thought bubble of the "robot" is coming out of its' shoulder, for example. It was an interesting experiment and as a starting point for a more considered "opinion piece" it was a good start. Maybe I will work on it from an "editors" point of view, but then again, whenever I offer my editorial input on your writing Pat, you prefer your work "as written" ;-)

To paraphrase Phillip K Dick; Do androids dream of publishing success?

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