Tuesday, 30 August 2011

We've been here before...

Housing Minister Grant Shapps has pledged to "get Britain building again." This is in response to the National Housing Federation warning that "unless they do something about it an entire generation will be locked out of decent housing." This has once again re-opened the debate between liberal and conservatives about the "property ladder" and "generation rent."

Rather than re-hash the matter, I'll point readers to what I said back in May;
For most of us, the current economic system is simply the only means for us to secure such dwellings - whether by rent or mortgage. Meanwhile, as Daniel Knowles neatly puts it in his Telegraph blog, "each month, an anonymous company gets to collect more of my income than I pay in taxes. No one getting a share of that money had anything to do with building the house. They are simply profiting from the fact that it’s still useful." Which is exactly what the government does with tax, though so many crusaders against rent-seeking fall silent when the usury is private.

A house is not a luxury akin to a Porsche or "another form of consumption." But, by the same token, it is not simply a capital asset to be used in securing yourself a decent pension pot. It is a domestic dwelling. Or, as the comedian Alun Cochrane put it, we should "bloody live in it."

The "right" to private property not only leaves so many people renting or living with their parents for far longer, unable to take their first step onto the "ladder." It also leaves around 61,000 households homeless whilst there are around 651,000 empty homes in England alone. All for the "freedom" of a minority to seek rent and gamble on capital accumulation. Which is the more important debate we are not having.