Leading article: The houses we need – now

Share
Related Topics

In a time of stalled growth, scarce finance and limited confidence, it is perhaps not surprising that the number of new houses being built has dropped to the lowest level for a century. But it is no less alarming for that.

The strains of Britain's inadequate housing stock are already apparent: social housing is insufficient and too often of poor quality; both rents and unscrupulous landlordism are on the rise; and house prices are far out of kilter with earnings. Such problems are only going to get worse. With building sclerotic and demand steadily increasing, Britain needs as many as 250,000 new homes annually for the next 15 years at least – compared with the woeful 120,000 built in the last 12 months. If things continue as they are, the UK will be 750,000 homes short by 2025, according to some estimates. Meanwhile, the relevant government department's capital budget is being slashed by nearly three-quarters, taking its investment in affordable housing down by anything up to two-thirds.

In fairness, the Government has not entirely buried its head in the sand. A £900m local authority scheme and tweaks to social housing rental rules are designed to encourage building, while it is hoped that much-vaunted (and highly controversial) changes to the planning system will fill the space left by abolishing regional house-building targets.

But even taken together, such measures barely scratch the surface. And there is no shortage of options, from re-prioritising capital spending, to time-limiting planning permission to stopping building companies hoarding land, to freeing up suitable sites owned by the public sector. More radical proposals include attracting investment from pension funds or expanding the role of the Big Society Bank.

Above anything, Britain needs a coherent strategy. So far, the Government's response to the burgeoning crisis has been wholly inadequate. It is not acceptable simply to point to the pinched public purse. Ensuring citizens' basic needs are met is one of the fundamental responsibilities of government. That a country as rich as Britain cannot house its people decently is a disgrace.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The law is too hard on sexting teenagers

Memphis Barker
 

Obama must speak out – Americans are worried no one is listening to them

David Usborne
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game