Home ownership in England has fallen to its lowest level for 30 years and the number of people privately renting is higher than in the 1960s says David Ellesmere.
Young people are facing a Catch-22 situation. They are paying more to rent their homes than they would for a mortgage but, because rents are so high, they can’t afford to save for a deposit which would enable them to get a mortgage in the first place.
Increased rents in the private sector enable buy-to-let landlords to buy more property, pushing up house prices, which leads to higher rents, which pushes home ownership even further out of reach.
The Government has published a Housing White Paper which is supposed to fix this crisis but the general consensus is that it won't make much difference.
There's nothing about helping councils to build more houses. In fact we know that the Conservatives don’t want councils building houses at all. Look at Ravenswood where ministers overturned planning permission for 94 council homes because they were “too affordable”.
If the Tories took their blinkers off they’d realise that letting councils build more houses would actually help more people to buy a home.
Councils don’t have the same problems accessing finance as private developers so can guarantee a steady stream of houses, unaffected by economic boom and bust. This would help keep house price inflation down, making all homes more affordable.
Competition from council housing would help keep private sector rents down making it easier to save for a deposit. Lower rents may mean fewer buy-to-let landlords entering the market which again would help keep house prices down.
Every council tenant has the Right To Buy and the discount they accrue is the equivalent of saving for a deposit. As long as each council house that is sold is replaced this would lead to more owner occupiers.
We would still need private developers to build the majority of news homes but, if the Government was serious about tackling the housing crisis, it would take the shackles off councils who are ready and willing to build.