Providing low cost housing should actually be a surprisingly easy thing to achieve, if industry was permitted to do that.
Building expensive housing and subsidising it as proposed by Gordon Brown will act as an economic distortion, creating large debts which will force up tax rates and interest rates yet further. Taxes are already into their inefficient levels where they collect less by blocking incentives. If Brown adds 10% to income tax a move he is said to be in favour of, the trickle of companies and individuals quitting Britain will turn into a stampede. The economy’s growth will suffer.
If you want low cost housing, just buy it. You can order homes oThen the internet which will be delivered to any site you may have – warm, comfortable, durable, fitted and ready to use. So what’s the problem?
The problem is the cowardice of Brown’s government. He will be criticised by agencies paid for by the housebuilding industry to stop people getting housed at a price they can afford. If Brown won’t even try to get round the house-building industry’s PR efforts to block the widescale use of transportable homes, Britain indeed has a housing problem, plus a high tax problem, and a government debt problem to match it. In all other English speaking countries such homes – called park Homes in Britain – house over 5% of the population. In Britain only 1% are housed this way. It’s time this was changed. A million people could be housed cheaply and quickly if there was the political will – no new taxes, no more debts and no need for the government to spend any money at all. In fact the economic activity would fill government coffers were it allowed to proceed.
The other aspect where Britain has got housing wrong in the past, and where Gordon Brown is about to repeat the mistake, is to allow public high rise housing of low quality, but not to allow privately developed high quality high rise city centre residential property. If condominiums were allowed to be built at 40 storeys to provide 1,2 and 3 bedroom luxury flats in or near city and town centres, many new homes at lower prices could be afforded. The need for commuting and excessive car use would be reduced, enabling more people to live without cars and use public transport and reduce their carbon footprint. Other countries depend to a large extent on housing their urban populations in this way. Only in Britain does high rise mean low quality, state built. Again planning rules need relaxing for this solution to housing needs to take off, and the housebuilding industry needs to be ignored.
The Conservatives should not be so cowardly as Brown is being, and should introduce proposals to change the way Britons house themselves. The effects of Brown’s shortsightedness and attempt to put back the housing clock will be homeless misery for millions, to match his pensions misery and his high tax on business misery. Gordon’s frown will be shared by us all in time. Let’s go for Cameron’s smile.