The Tory concept of capping the kind of home that is available to people on housing benefit might be sold as an attempt to cut council bills but it’s also a classic piece of social engineering. One only has to look at the sink estates of social housing scattered across the country to see what a false economy it is to “ghetto-ise” those in poverty. The costs in anti-social behaviour, policing, long-term unemployment, poor education and blocks to social mobility have a massive knock-on cost to the British economy and taxpayer.
If we are to deal with the shocking lack of affordable housing that 13 years of Labour government did almost nothing to address, we have to lower the costs of building for developers by taking on the land banking institutions, by freeing up council-owned land for different uses, by closing the loopholes in planning laws that let developers avoid affordable housing quotas.
We also need to be aware that the price of property remains falsely inflated. While the country is being run by people who benefitted from the property boom, we fail to deal adequately with the needs of the next generation. Most of the young people who are going to be running Britain in the next few years cannot possibly afford a mortgage, especially in London. That is unacceptable.
The city cannot operate as a viable community without having sufficient homes for all levels of income. If we do not prioritise the affordability and availability of housing we are going to face a massive crisis.