Saturday, May 17, 2008

Dragged Under By The Great Helmsman

Going down

Remember the Helmsman's pledge to build 3 million new homes by 2020? It will require the building of c250,000 houses every year, or around 60,000 per quarter.

As we've blogged before, that's much higher than anything ever achieved under NuLab. But even worse, ever since Jonah Brown made the pledge, house building has slumped.

The latest figures for England have just been published, and as expected, they show housing starts in the first quarter of 2008 collapsed. They're down to 32,000, over 10,000 lower than the same quarter last year, and the lowest level of quarterly starts since Labour came to power.

If maintained - and they're clearly trending lower still - quarterly starts of 32,000 imply that the pledge of 3m new homes will not be delivered until 2031. At the agonisingly slow rate of 128,000 new homes pa.

And there's that other slight problemette. According to the latest official projections (see this blog), net immigration over the next 50 years will average 190,000 pa (central projection). Almost all of them will come to England - maybe more than all, if Scotland goes on losing population.

So... er... let's see... 190,000 extra people every year into 128,000 new homes doesn't quite seem to go. To the tune of a cumulative 62,000 pa deficit.

Well, OK, the average household is c 2.4 people, so 128,000 homes might accommodate c 300,000 people. But many of those new homes will be small flats, and we must remember the 4m people already on social housing waiting lists.

There are going to be an awful lot of cardboard boxes underneath the arches. And an awful lot of anger.

PS What to do? First, recognise the mass immigration of the last decade was bonkers and cap it pdq (see this blog for some facts, noting especially that two-thirds - yes, two-thirds - of Labour's 2.2m foreign migrants came from outside the EU, so could have been stopped). Second, free up planning laws... except... NIMBY thank-you very much. OK, what about the Thames Gateway... yeah, right. Or how about we implement some real fiscal decentralisation allowing local authorities in cheaper areas to set their own lower taxes? They'd attract businesses and people there instead of everybody crowding into the South East.

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