British People in Hot Weather

The British are famous for our obsession with British weather. Britain is rarely hot (>25C) and rarely cold (<-5C). So when it is hot we go crazy and run out outside to bask in the experience the strange newness of the our area being hot. When it snows we also run out to play with the magical icy white stuff. However because such events are usually only for two weeks of the year we don’t bother preparing for them, it’s deemed too expensive to bother, even when buildings exist for over a hundred years, a few quid saved when building and hang the long term efficiency costs.. So, we we suffer in sweaty places of work and grumble about the madness of being only half as productive for a couple of weeks a year. The vast majority of British buildings are not designed for inclement weather and we just put up with it, or try and do things outside and burn our skins to the colour of lobsters.

Sometimes this lack of long term planning ends in tragedy as happened last week. The Grenfell tower block in London caught fire with a tragic loss of life of people dying in their homes.

The tragedy multiples when we think start to think about why this tragic event occurred.  People dying in a burning building is always tragic. Its doubly tragic when it is suggested that mistakes were made that were directly responsible. It’s particularly tragic when the whole UK political system is part of the problem.

Grenfell Tower was part of the 1960s policy to replace falling apart housing with cities in the skies. They were built on the cheap and poorly managed. However at least some thought was put into preventing fire spreading. However, because these flats were near to the most expensive part of London, it seems a decision was made to clad the tower to make it look nicer, rather than install a sprinkler system, which was what the building needed more, to bring it into line with modern tower constructions. There are suggestions that this cladding contributed to the fire spreading quickly and it is this that has made people particularly upset. The UK ‘planning’ system is woefully  inadequate and our building regulations are farcical; which is the fault of the political system.

This political tragedy is that such problems as Grenfell tower were known about for years but nothing got done about them. This is arguably due to a government that has had a strange ideological objection to regulation and is corrupt in being lobbied only by big businesses which don’t like the cost of following regulations.

Surely it is wrong for government to only be responsive to corporate interests and ignore the concerns of the people it is supposed to represent. The market is great at making some things more efficient, cheaper and as a system for deciding what to invest in. However it is not perfect and sometimes we need human beings to make decisions about what works. With a such a government as the Uk has suffered recently, in perhaps supporting luxury residential development and pricing key workers out of towns and by decreasing safety for poorer people living nearby. Less scarily, it is happy to save a few quid now and allow building inefficient buildings and their subsequent productivity effects on the businesses within them. Isn’t is just crazy not to put air conditioning into a building and cover the roof with solar panels to power the air-conditioning, which will provide the power just when it is required. Such obvious solutions are not favoured by the UK planning system with arbitrary points based decisions making. Trivially I grew up with dreadful British showers and it has taken plumbers from outside the UK to come in, shake their heads and install nice showers for us to wash in, it’s like no one ever thought through the installation of showers. There seems no interest in developing solutions, rather allow the population to be used to being ignored and put up with crumbling housing, transport networks, inefficient healthcare and schools.

Hopefully, the tragedy of Grenfell tower will serve as a beacon for change, for greater democratic accountability, where people raising concerns will not be slammed as troublemakers, but actually listened to.

In the recent UK general election, we got an unexpected result. This was due to younger people turning out to vote in greater numbers. However there are suggestions that it was not merely that younger people tend to vote for left wing parties, nor that this time more of them actually voted, but that they voted for Corbyn’s Labour party in huge numbers. This suggests that the disparity in voting intention between generations was the greatest it has ever been.

I believe that the reason for this was about how different generations receive their news. Younger people tend to use social media on the internet more. I heard about the Grenfell tragedy through social media. Older people perhaps use traditional mainstream media more: newspapers and television stations. The issue in the UK is that the majority of the traditional print media is biased towards the Conservative party and television coverage has this right wing bias. So it is arguable that the older generation don’t hear about the real problems with the planning system and only hear a superficial story about leftist trouble makers. Whereas social media does tend to be left wing in its focus. If this theory holds, then there is hope for the future, that practical solutions are implemented rather than a slavish adherence to a single political creed.

What Britain needs is more democratic accountability, more control from the bottom, from communities and regions. Doing this creates systems where people raising concerns are actually listened to and such concerns acted upon. With the current system only the powerful interests of capital are listened to, nations like Wales and the communities within them are ignored, instead one size fits all solutions are found that favour the wealthy few at the top, rather than increasing the amount of wealth and productivity of the workforce.

Of course sometimes the local solution will be impractical, so it remains important that decision makers should research all available information. However in recent times the top-down way of doing things has been proved wrong most of the time, which suggests that the balance of power is seriously off kilter.

The First Past The Post (FPTP) electoral system does not work well in the modern world, it favours those at the top of big UK wide political parties. In such parties those that make a fuss about local issues tend not to make it up the greasy pole to where real power resides. This is not how FPTP is supposed to work. FPTP works when a local representative is elected to represent that area in parliament. That local representative will then support initiatives that help their constituents and vote against those that make things harder. These representatives may be members of a whatever political party, but should be prepared to vote against their party when their voters are detrimentally affected. Policy should proceed by consensus, where there is enough support from across the political spectrum for an individual policy. Nowadays the system doesn’t work as party is more powerful than constituency, Members of parliament (MPs) have to take the party whip and not vote on an issue by issue basis. The solution to this is increase power to the bottom, in regions, in communities, rather than top down from political parties. For decisions to be taken with knowledge of people who use things in their daily lives, rather than those who macro manage from afar.

It is time that we wake up and realise that it is wrong that we swelter on packed trains with broken air-conditioning in the summer, on our way to work in inefficient buildings, and then return home to housing with dreadful showers and the risk of being trapped to burn to death in our homes.

 

The Mattress Problem

Having written recently about long commuting, I am looking forward to finding a place to live in the city where I now work. This has propelled me once again into the British housing crisis. I’m resigned to paying over half my pre-tax income to pay someone else’s mortgage to have somewhere basic but reasonable to live in. so once again I have to deal with the mattress problem. The mattress problem is that most rented flats come ‘furnished’ and landlords are often very reluctant to remove their crappy furniture and their disgusting post reasonable use mattresses. The problem is compounded by the housing crisis, where flats are taken within 48 hours of being advertised, so there is no pressure on landlords to make flats reasonably habitable, this has become the tenants responsibility.

In my last rented place, the landlord insisted I stored his mattress in the room,  I then just bought a cheap 12 month life mattress to sleep on and disposed of it in landfill when I left. I even spent the first week or so sleeping on the floor, the mattress was that bad.

This begs the question of how did British housing get into this ridiculous situation? Basically housing has not responded to the changes in the economy. Traditionally we largely lived in the communities we grew up in and secured ‘jobs for life’ locally, so the housing system was built around the idea of homes where people would live long term, if not all their lives. However, the modern economy is built around maximising flexibility in the labour market, where people are expected to move around the world to find roles that suit our inevitable specialisations. Much of the work is by contract, for example I have a 12 month work contract and after that I may move somewhere completely different. We are now expected to move to find work, as globalisation has led to service hubs. Indeed in Powys, where I’m from, the local hospitals have gone and the current debate is over whether our small towns should have high schools. Some studies/ the council suggest that having a hub school is cheaper even with the costs of busing all the children back and forth around the county. Or maybe ultimately the idea isthe transport costs can be passed onto parents rather than the state. My point is that even if you are a doctor, a nurse or a schoolteacher, these days you have to be prepared to move to your specialised hub to work, which compounds the housing pressure at the hubs.

Anyway, I am essentially looking for somewhere temporary to live, which brings me to subject of furniture. Traditionally,  furniture (beds, tables, chairs) were expensive items that stayed with you for life and indeed furniture was often handed down within families; it was well made by craftsmen. Also equipment such as stoves, heating equipment, toilets, baths, fridges and washing facilities for clothes were part of the building or designed into it. So, in rented accommodation these things were often provided and often continue to be so in a very different world. Indeed in student accommodation, which I have a lot of experience of living in, it is convenient not having to lug big bulky furniture in and out of homes and transport across the country every six months.

The thing that has changed is that the cost of producing furniture has plummeted with mass production and furniture is no longer well made, and is no longer expected to last a life time or even a home move. Combined with this is the increase of people in transient temporary homes, leading to a glut of second hand furniture, people buy furniture to suit a home, it won’t fit nicely into the nooks and crannies of a new home so either gets sold cheaply or goes to land-fill dumps. As a society we are a society of consumers, we all have different lifestyles and preferences, so we now expect furniture to suit us, rather than adjust to fit the furniture.  We increasingly live in smaller spaces, so further require furniture that makes use of space efficiently, rather than having little used bulky furniture cluttering up the limited space.

Due to the housing crisis, mattresses represent arguably the thorniest issue in rented accommodation, they are big bulky items that are not easy to transport around the world. A good traditional Western mattress lasts about ten years and provides a comfortable bed to sleep on. However, lugging them around corners, up and down stairs, into vans, in and out of cold storage facilities really reduces their life expectancy. Also reducing their life expectancy is different people sleeping on them. The problem with a good mattress is that they are relatively expensive. A good new mattress is equivalent to a months rent, which for a 12 month let is a significant cost for the landlord and there is no guarantee the tenants will look after it up to a six year expectancy, so landlords provide cheap mattresses that last a year (about a weeks rent), then often they try and persuade tenants to use them beyond their natural life. So landlords do ask people to store unsuitable mattresses, because there is a reasonable chance the next tenant will be more tolerant of a bad mattress, even if the springs have popped out as in my case.

The upshot of this is that lots of cheap mattresses are produced which end up in skips and landfill every year. There is a huge environmental cost to this, as most of the materials are not recyclable and mattresses contain nasty chemicals from their manufacture (particularly the cheap ones). The solution is perhaps to leave tenants provide their own mattresses, yet it is taking a long time for most landlords to accept this solution. However as beds come in all shapes and sizes this often means tenants replacing their mattress every year. The housing ‘market’ hasn’t provided a solution to this problem.

Having browsed the internet for a solution, the answer seems to be futons, the traditional roll-up Japanese mattress, comfortable and easy transportable. I just need to find either an unfurnished flat or a landlord prepared to take away the bed to the tip or store. Why hasn’t this solution been widely accepted? It may be that British people don’t like sleeping on the floor. Traditional British beds are raised above the floor. As children we fear the monsters that live under the bed, and we kind of deal with this by accepting that the monsters won’t come out of their space, the area under the bed is after all only filled with monsters when the lights go out. If there is no space, where do the monsters go? uh oh! Part of the reason for raised beds is to not be troubled by rats at night, as a rat will rarely climb onto a bed with a large mammal sleeping on it. The rats are the monsters, but in most housing these days rat infestations are rare, rather than a part of life.

Of course, these problems also exist for home owners, it costs around £10,000 just to pay all the various costs of moving and then buy new furniture. It is simply not worth the effort of doing this, when transactions take months to complete, that more and more people are looking for 12 month lets in new cities and often letting out their home where they actually want to settle long term, and ahem, finding somewhere to store their furniture, or leave it for the tenants, including the mattresses.

It just seems that the humble mattress, we all need something to sleep on, represents so many of the problems of modern society and Britain has been so slow in developing a work around for the problems of mattresses. My experience of landlords is that they expect tenants to live in conditions they wouldn’t put up with themselves, which is morally wrong; landlords should provide accommodation they would be happy to live in themselves, they are receiving an income from their property after all, even if it is mainly just paying off a mortgage. The problem with this is that we all have different requirements, especially in bedding and furnishings, so such choices should be left to the tenant, who will know their own needs, whenever possible.

Taking Back Control- Brexit for Wales

One of the most galling phrases used by the Leave campaign in the UK EU referendum was ‘Take Back Control’. It’s a great sentiment, but in reality it’s just the UK political and economic establishment taking back control for themselves, not the people of Britain. Instead of the promised greater democracy, it seems that the Tory government will implement a Brexit on it’s own terms and ignore the expressed views of the electorate, leaving Wales to continue to suffer under the foot of powerful elites.

Last night, some interesting opinion poll data was released by ITV Wales. The poll suggests that post-Brexit vote, with all the craziness of the last week or so, that Wales had switched to favouring remaining in the EU. The poll also announced a growing consideration of Welsh independence within the EU, of 35% (up from the 5-10% it has been since the no vote in the last Scottish independence referendum). So can Wales ‘take back control’?

The problem Wales has it that it is currently one of the poorest regions in Northern Europe. Arguably our economy has not had the conditions to adapt to the move from heavy industry at the end of the 1970s to a globalised economy, where job creation has only really occurred in connected services hubs, like London and other major cities. However the argument for an independent Wales has been that freed from governance from London that favours service hubs to the detriment of the wider economy, Wales would be able to grow and thrive as one-nation. Whatever the Tories post-Brexit plan for the UK, with an increased focus on service hubs, deregulation and removal of social infrastructure, it looks like Wales will suffer, with no guarantees of continued regional funding. Perhaps it is really time for Wales to go it’s own way.

A self-governing Wales would be free to enter into it’s own arrangements with the EU. One option is to join the EFTA (European Free Trade Association) along with other smaller nations or full membership of the EU. The EFTA was originally set up by the UK to create a free market area outside the EU before the UK joined the common market in the 1970s. Membership of the EFTA offers tariff free access to the EEA (European Economic Area), easing tariff free trade with other European countries. The advantage of EFTA membership, as opposed to EU membership, is the possibility of certain opt-outs, retaining the benefits of devolution and not overly ceding to centralised decision making.

The UK EU referendum highlighted a number of issues that people are concerned about: housing, immigration putting pressure on jobs and stifling small businesses at the expense of multi-nationals. I think housing is the big significant one, especially for Wales.

I found out recently that Denmark, has it’s own opt-out from the EU housing market. In Denmark only citizens and residents can own residential housing. Wales could also have this opt-out. Wales could establish a constitutional right of Welsh citizens and residents to own their own home and establish rights for renters for security of tenure. Wales can have strong building regulations and build good quality, sustainable social housing, that residents of have  ownership rights. Restrictions on second home and foreign owned residential housing would prevent Welsh housing being an asset market and instead simply be about providing homes for people to live in. One way to do this is to place high taxes on second and foreign ownership and furthermore restrict such ownership in every district to say 25% of the housing stock in each local district. Tourism is important for Wales, people like to stay in holiday lets rather than hotels, these policies would allow these industries to thrive, whilst supporting sustainable communities.

The advantages of taking control of housing are that allowing housing to be an asset market imposes restraints on the wider economy. Until the early 1980s, a full time worker would be able to buy a reasonable home for themselves for three times their wage, support a partner and raise children. The failure of abiding to the social contract of successive UK governments has left housing over-priced, maladaptive to changing requirements and of poor quality.

Taking control of housing has potentially enormous benefits, the main advantage being lowering housing costs, if you halve housing costs back to their long term average, this increases the disposable income of those in employment. Instead of being in housing debt, incomes would then significantly exceed living costs for ordinary people. Then, this luxury income can be saved and invested in the wider real economy, people can be more responsible for their own retirement and welfare. People will be more productive as they will be better rested and less worried. People would be able to move house quickly, easily and without penalty to exploit a flexible labour market. With secure housing, people can take bigger risks, they can set up their own businesses, without fear of homelessness. Reducing the cost of living, so significantly, will lower the living wage, whilst increasing disposable incomes, enabling the Welsh workforce to be competitive in a globalised world.

Their are many other advantages for Welsh independence and other means of reducing living costs. Control over energy policy will enable Wales to make use of it’s natural resources to become more than self-sufficient in renewable energy and less vulnerable to fluctuations in global energy prices. Agricultural policy can be set for the specific needs of the Welsh farming industry and it’s consumers. Wales can opt-out of damaging trade deals like CETA and TTIP and instead create new genuine free trade deals across Europe and the world. In short Wales can democratically control it’s own destiny, grow it’s economy and not be a poor powerless appendage to a wider world that seeks to exploit it. Wales can become a small but integrated hub of a globalised world. Wales can be open to the world, seeking out mutually advantageous relationships with our neighbours and partners overseas.

The transition may be tough, but we are in tough times already. We can create a socially democratic society of strong communities and robust efficient public institutions that actively support a growing culture of enterprise rather than capital that seeks to weaken it. A Wales where it’s young people want to stay and build, rather than go away with the aim of coming back. Self-government for Wales is the change Wales needs and offers hope for the future, we can once again be proud to be British.

 

 

 

 

 

The Great British Housing Crisis

There has recently been much media coverage of the British ‘housing crisis’, as if people had only just noticed, the crisis arguably began in the early 1980s and has continued ever since.

The situation prior to the crisis, what perhaps was considered normal, was for homes to cost 3 times the full time workers salary. People could take out mortgages over 25 years and pay around 20% of their incomes servicing there mortgage and still have money to save or invest. There was also a rental sector, with relatively secure tenancies and rents were reasonable. Then there was social/council housing, for those unable or unwilling to enter the private housing market. There were the experimental housing estates of the 1950s and 1960s, which many tenants moved from as they were poorly maintained  and the councils housed difficult tenants in them, all of which led to estates becoming ‘sink estates; areas of high crime.

The Thatcher government introduced the policy of ‘right to buy’ (though the Labour party had tried to introduce the policy in the 1950s), whereby council tenants had the right to buy their homes at a substantial discount on the market price (up to 50%). The idea of owning your home rather than renting now became appealing to a wider section of the population. In my view, the policy in itself is a good one, however what the government failed to do was replace the houses that were sold with new build social housing, this really is what caused the housing crisis. There remained spare capacity in property available in deprived areas of towns and cities, slowly this spare capacity disappeared without replacement.

The fall in the numbers of social houses was exacerbated with the perennial failure of private house building to keep up with demand. Demand was rising as the number of households increased and to a lesser extent population growth. The rise in the number of households was caused by social changes. Social changes, such as the rise in the divorce rate meant the traditional family home became two homes and young adults living independently for longer periods before marriage.

Demand for housing exceeded supply, causing rapid house price inflation, an inflation that far exceeded economic growth (wages, GDP, inflation) and was not a reflection of the underlying health of the British economy, although many on the right claimed it was. This has continued for 35 years. The people of Britain have adapted to these changes, absorbing the effects of the crisis. There has been a general trend of a decrease in the space or the square footage, taken up by individuals. New builds are smaller and smaller, existing housing has had rooms divided into smaller ones to pack more people in, all at the cost of individuals living efficiency. People have moved into the empty homes in the deprived areas and moved to live further and further away from their place of work. More importantly the amount of peoples income spent on housing has increased, from around 20% to up to 50% of income. Really, I think it’s quite crazy to spend half you’re income just to put a roof over your head, when it doesn’t take half an individuals life work to build a house.

Why are the British prepared to spend so much money on housing? The housing crisis has been growing for a long time. Younger people have felt a desperation to own there own home as relative cost increased further, rather than waste their money paying the profits of a landlord or a financial institution, especially when in the long term, over a lifetime, buying over renting still saves a lot of money.

I noted in the news yesterday that the average England and Wales monthly rent is £816, The average house price is £178000. The mortgage repayments, over a standard 25 year mortgage for this average house is £858. Basically, the cost of paying rent and a mortgage are essentially the same. So, it is always advantageous to buy instead of rent. The percentage of people in the 25-35 age group, when traditionally people buy a family home is falling, What frustrates young people is to get a mortgage a 10% deposit is required, this is frustrating to achieve, when they are renting at £800 a month and need to save for a deposit on top of this, knowing that when they do get a mortgage there monthly outgoings then fall. It’s a catch-22 as they longer they take to raise this deposit the amount required increases as house prices and rents continue to rise, All this in an economy where wages are stagnant.

This barrier to buying, doesn’t apply to the asset rich, who can find a deposit. The phenomena of ‘buy to let’ landlords became common. You simply paid the deposit and over 25 years the mortgage was paid off by the tenants renting the house and suddenly you have a valuable asset to sell. so, a whole industry of private landlords who made a lot of money out of very little work and no contribution to the productive economy. Because the expansion of this practice itself led to house price inflation, both encouraged it and hit the productive workers who lived in these homes.

The failure of private construction companies to supply the market with new build homes is a contributory factor. Friends of mine who live and work in continental Europe encounter locals who are find it strange that the British tend to live in old damp housing, rather than move to new builds. The answer is that new build housing is of lower quality than old housing and situated on estates that lack local pubs and shops and transport connections, they are relatively isolated. and as such command a lower market price than old housing. The majority of new build housing is constructed by a cartel of large developers, who build to minimum build quality standards, the houses are small and designed to a minimum specification of living needs, so they have limited appeal, generally those who can only afford new build. Much of this housing suffers from poor sound insulation and lack the ability to deliver real living needs. So, the traditional Victorian terrace house is superior as a place to live even if it costs a lot more to heat in the winter, really the UK should build new terrace housing in the same medium density style but with modern insulation methods.

A consequence of this hyper inflationary market has been social segregation, only those on high wages can afford to live near the places of work that pay high wages and have access to good social facilities. London and the south east of England has particularly borne the brunt of this hyper-inflation. There has been a scramble for people of my generation to enter the housing market before it’s too late, itself contributing to the inflation.

Another major social change has been work tenure. The older generation generally had ‘jobs for life’ where people could work for the same firm all their lives, taking on senior roles as their skills and experience increased. This is no longer the model, nowadays workers is contracted to a handful of years, so people move around the UK and the rest of the world to work. This has led to the idea that when buying a home to have it near by a range of potential businesses and customers, so a job can change but the home needn’t change. The resulting pressure on the transport infrastructure of increasing long distance commuting meant that homes near good transport hubs increased, distance from place of work no longer matters, it’s the time spent traveling that is important.

People are afraid to move, even when this will increase their living standards. This is partly due to the cost of £5000+ simply to sell your home and buy another elsewhere. An unwillingness to move to an area where property prices may drop relative to other areas, partly due to fear of not being able to move back home is house prices change. A consequence of this is that people living in and around London don’t want to risk moving away for a great work/business opportunity as they fear not being able to move back to home to their friends and family. This has encouraged the phenomenon utilised by several of my friends of buying a home in London or elsewhere, renting it out and using the rental income to pay to rent somewhere else, giving them flexibility in where they live in exchange for the awkwardness of being a landlord and renting at the same time.

All this social change has led to the political establishment appearing to finally realisie that housing is now the UK economies biggest problem, affecting productivity and recruitment. If you are a firm based in London you are well situated for producing products for a large local market and international connections are easy to set up and maintain. The cost of these advantages has largely been absorbed by the workforce, keen to hold a well paying job. however productivity is low as workers spend hours every day on cramped trains or stuck in traffic jams, this makes them tired and stressed and hence less productive. It is difficult to recruit staff as highly skilled people, who don’t already live in the South East are unable to afford to move to the area, unless wages rise. Such wages have risen, which further exacerbates the problem, the crisis is now being discussed because firms can no longer afford the staffing costs, especially in the sluggish post-2008 world economy. the workers and financial institutions have decreasing disposable incomes and no savings to invest in innovation.

Outside the global financial industry and the South East of England, these problems caused by the housing crisis are also manifest. The social division of areas has caused people to flee to areas with cheaper housing costs. This drove up housing costs in other industrial hubs, creating tensions with the local population, again pushing wages up to fund the increasing costs costs of housing for workers. The effect of this that a new business may have a great product and skilled staff, but cannot sell the product cheaply because wages are so high. The British have absorbed rising housing costs by cutting their disposable incomes to the hilt. Many firms now manufacture their goods or use cheaper labour in call centres countries like India to manage their sales and customer service because they can’t do it locally, because of the housing crisis. Essentially it is hard to develop a business in the UK in a globalised world, because the costs of living is too high. The British people have suffered and made the best of the housing crisis, but it has reached the point where it severely impacts the British economy generally.

The UK’s failure in tackling the housing crisis is simply bad economically. Capitalism works through supply and demand, open financial transactions and a free market. The problem is that housing is not part of a free market in the UK and never has been. Economies work well by having good levels of liquidity: Basically I buy goods from company A, they buy goods from company B, company B buys goods from company C, I work for company C so some of .the money comes back to me. However when each company pays wages to it’s staff and half of that money disappears to financial institutions/ asset rich landlords in housing costs. The problem is that the money made by the financial institutions doesn’t go back into the economy, it is spent on acquiring assets, including housing, further reducing liquidity. The asset bubble has finally hit the financial institutions, they no longer invest in economic growth as there is no liquidity to grow the businesses, instead they buy assets, this bubble will surely burst sometime soon as the British have borrowed to the hilt to to maintain living standards in the hope that things will get better. In a cold country, people have an innate fear of homelessness.

So, what is the solution?

1/ Build more housing. Firstly the government builds more social housing. Any money paid by the tenants over maintenance costs allows the tenant to buy a portion of the home every month, this money can then be invested in more social housing. Secondly change the planing system, allow qualified town planners to zone land and make planning applications quick and easy and ensure developments are properly planned, with green space, space for local business to develop and for social facilities, such as shops and schools, i.e make new estates places where people can live, build communities, rather than have to travel somewhere else to take part in social events. Thus zoning will be based on community needs rather than the lowest bidder.

2/ Discourage use of housing as an asset business. Homes are places for people to live and not as a resource to be exploited. A way to do this is to tax purchase of 2nd properties at say 20% of the market price, to help fund social house building and then a land value tax on the property. This will give people buying a home to live in an advantage over the asset rich.

3/ Change the laws for homes, give people the right to a home. If someone suffers becoming unemployed and defaults on their mortgage, the state should buy  the property at the purchase price or the current market value (whichever is lower) and allow the occupants to live in the property, it becomes social housing, so when the occupants regain employment they continue buying the home, of the government.

4/ Improve the building regulations, make homes more energy sustainable and sound insulated. Set minimum space standards per person.

5/ Encourage social mobility, eliminate stamp duty and streamline the conveyancing process, enabling people to move home without incurring a penalty. This will aid people moving closer to their workplace and retired people away from transport and employment hubs

6/ Deal with negative equity, provide assistance for those who were unlucky to take on a mortgage towards the end of the housing crisis. But no support for those with an excessive square for to occupants ratio (to discourage speculation)

7/ Implement these solutions cleverly, maintain the market by managing a reduction in house prices at around 2-3% of market price year on year until a house costs 3x average wage. A sudden house price crash would be more damaging.

Of course, the housing crisis won’t be solved until the asset rich establishment realise that the whole economy will crash, rather than maintain a grip on political power to maintain the ever increasing cost of housing.