In the 1960s we built 400,000 houses per year. In the 70s, 250,000. The 80s, 90s and 00s around 150,000 as council house builds disappeared. Now it is barely 100,000 a year.
The peak year was 1968, with 425,000 completions, nearly half of which were privately built - so much for the public sector 'crowding out' the private sector. It seems in this case at least, the opposite is true.
Around 20bn pounds is given to landlords every year in housing benefit. Average house prices are around 170k. Build costs are about half that, the land already in government hands.
20bn pounds could build 220,000 houses per year. Construction is in recession and tradesman are under utilised. This is the perfect time to build as costs are low.
The government could not only solve the housing crisis, massively boost the economy and boost employment, but also sell at a profit! Even if they borrowed the money!!
So, why hasn't it happened? Too many votes in the housing bubble, perhaps? It is time someone other than property speculators was given a share of the national wealth gleaned from land price increases that are largely due to taxpayer expenditure.
Nor, is population growth the cause of our problem. Population has grown 9m since 1960, yet we have built 10m homes. Occupancy has fallen from 3.3 per home to 2.3.
The problem is unequal ownership. Inequality of wealth. Too many one person occupants of family homes.
Incidently, housing benefits expenditure is due to increase. As unemployment rises, the extra demand will outweigh the coalition cuts. The government is moving claimants from the bottom half of properties to the bottom third. Side effect of this is that London will become out of bounds. The Tories say get on the bus. Not only do they move the low paid and unemployed further away from where the work is, they cut bus subsidies, cut reliability and increase fares. There is a long term cost in a lost generation of people. Tories create welfare dependancy.
Housing benefit was brought in by Margaret Thatcher and is another example of short-term Tory cost cutting costing the taxpayer a fortune in the long term. Thatcher gave all the profits from council house sales, north sea oil and utility sell offs in tax cuts to the rich. Money they used to make a fortune from property. What a scam! How do they get away with it?