Housing and intergenerational fairness

The Intergenerational Foundation has been running an excellent series of blogs on the housing crisis, with interesting postings from people such as Danny Dorling (whose book I wrote about in an earlier blog), Shelter’s Toby Lloyd, and Legal and General’s chief executive Nigel Wilson (who writes about the need to provide housing for older people). In my blog I get cross about politicians crying crocodile tears about housing affordability.

To the extent that affordability is a problem for people who will never be able to afford to buy or rent in the open market, the solution is to build more social housing. The state now spends on housing benefit (indirectly subsidising already well-off buy-to-let landlords) what it used to spend building houses. This is bonkers.

To the extent that the problem is unaffordable house prices, the solution will not come from releasing land in the hope that the private builders will build more houses and therefore bring the price down. They would have no interest in doing so, even if the main cause of house price inflation was shortage of supply, which it is not. Tax advantages for home owners and government schemes that pump money into the housing market have rather more to do with it. So if politicians really want to tackle affordability, they should set an objective of stable and falling house prices and take the measures necessary to achieve it (as Duncan Stott also argues in his blog, though I disagree with many of his policy prescriptions).

I am not holding my breath that there will be a radical change in approach or rhetoric by the main parties this side of the election. My blog can be read here.

3 Responses to “Housing and intergenerational fairness”


  1. 1 Arthur Franks March 13, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    Simple I have said it before LAs should be building more property for sale at a low price ( forget the term affordable it is relative. ) or for rental with a secure tenure instead of the current fashion for short tem contracts

  2. 2 Robert Flunder March 13, 2015 at 7:24 pm

    Another ‘CPRE Viewpoint from you Shaun Spiers – seeking to divert attention from the problem of EVER INCREASING POPULATION and blaming the older English generation for the problems a younger generation are facing because of the ever increasing competition they face for jobs and housing from foreign people undercutting them

    Generations obviously have a financial relationship with one another – BUT both backwards and forwards.

    A proper ‘intergeneration accounting process’ would be required, reflecting what a previous generation pays for and passes on ( e.g. total infrastructure , stable working society based on the hard won rules of law, militarily defended society, all paid for by a previous generation.)

    To just talk only about housing is to warp the whole ‘intergenerational conversation’ and duck out of the the subject of “Intergenerational Accounting”.

  3. 3 Chris March 17, 2015 at 6:17 pm

    Population pressure is a huge issue. How can we go on increasing the population both nationally and globally without a massive impact on our natural environment and resources? This issue is hardly mentioned by the media or Westminster but it is at the core of the whole problem surely. There are only finite resources. Our countryside will pay the price if this issue is not addressed.


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