Letter: Social change and the housing market

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Sir: Building society forecasts about house prices and the state of the market rarely take account of the changed state of things in Britain ('Halifax expects house prices to outstrip inflation by 1995', 29 December). House ownership is no longer regarded as the best way to enhance family equity by young people in business and the professions. This is not just because of the recent fall in house values. Other factors that make many young people prefer to rent rather than buy are the decline in tenure in professional appointments, and the general expectation among employers in both private and state sectors that personnel must be mobile, and prepared to up sticks to work in a new place.

The impact of such unsettlement on families is catastrophic in many cases. The hassle of selling and buying on disadvantageous terms is one thing; the disruption of schooling, if the family moves successfully, or of family life, if the breadwinner moves out leaving the rest of the nuclear group where the mortgaged house remains, is another thing, painful and often unbearable. The steep rise in executive and professional unemployment during the long slump has aggravated matters.

It is as if the Thatcherite desideratum of 'a property-owning democracy' has been deliberately sabotaged by the Thatcherite pursuit of business and professional efficiency, which turns out to be cruel to people and to promote social instability.

Yours faithfully,


London W8

30 December