The property gravy train

Arwel Griffith (pictured) is a partner at Robert Sterling Surveyors

I was sat watching George Clarke’s council house scandal programme on Channel 4 recently and it referred in some detail to Mrs Thatcher’s right to buy. I seem to recall the scheme coming in and thinking it was a good idea at the time.

However, for it to be a good strategy there needs to be a replacement of social housing stock. And that’s where the problem lies. There’s been very limited building of council stock for many years and as a result there’s much more demand than supply – not enough to go around in short.

While it looks as though there are lots of cranes in the sky and plant trundling up and down the roads, much of that activity is focused on building private developments (162,270 overall with 2,460 for local authorities and 25,070 for housing associations in the last year up to 4 July 2019).

This has contributed to higher rents in the private sector that many people can’t afford, and an increase in homelessness. There are more people on our streets now sleeping than ever before.

Generally housing stock is low, and consequently prices have increased. Fewer younger people can get on the ladder, and although help to buy is by and large a good idea in theory, developers are simply pushing up their prices as a result.

I sat there for a while watching the programme worried sick about the future of housing, both social and private, and all the while a lame duck political system which has no idea how to sort it all out. I found myself hanging my own head in shame as being part of the property gravy train, it’s rather bad now, but I can see no sign of improvement for the foreseeable future.

Is Boris the answer? On yer bike!

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