This week’s housing white paper is nothing of the sort. It is a stew of fake news, old cliches and pretend solutions. The communities secretary, Sajid Javid, says the “housing market is broken”, parroting his predecessor, Eric Pickles, who claimed to have mended it. Javid’s policy tosses in the old saw that “Britain needs to build 245,000 new houses a year to meet demand”.
This is illiterate. Demand is not need. The famous quarter of a million is crude “family formation”. The implication is Leninist, that the state’s duty is a home for every citizen, irrespective of choice, price or district. I could answer that Britain has 700,000 empty houses, and London last year converted thousands of offices into flats. Is that the end of the shortage? Only a bureaucrat in a bubble could talk such nonsense, yet the BBC trots it out as a “crisis” day after day.
By imposing one size fits all building targets on all communities across Britain, Javid is seeking total mastery of the private housing sector. He is completing a last link in Labour’s 1940s nationalisation agenda, bringing to housing the same welfare centralisation, bureaucracy and insensitivity now afflicting the NHS.
Britain’s housing market is no different to anyone else’s, slack in poor regions, frantic in rich ones. It is currently fixated on London and the south-east. This was the result of David Cameron pushing growth towards London’s overheated acres, fuelled by George Osborne’s