Housing problems in the UK

For many years I’ve had a few thoughts about the apparent housing problems but they have only been random thoughts. More recently I’ve been doing some joined up thinking about the housing problems, homelessness, general poverty and  it seems that these are problems that exist i a modern world. Some of the housing and poverty problems have been around for years and date back to pre-Victorian days. The UK is one of the most affluent nations in the world and has been for quite a few years but yet we still have people living in poverty! But worse than that we have people having to sleep rough and the numbers are increasing. On top of that, we have more people having to rely on “soup kitchens” and “Food Banks” because they can’t afford to buy food and yes I accept there will be a few free loaders! It’s not just housing, it’s the whole “poverty” situation that needs sorting out. Unemployment is currently fairly low but low wages are often only letting some people just manage to survive and that is just not good enough.

There should be a fair days pay for a fair days work. It’s just not acceptable for CEOs to be paid £ millions pa while the people doing the work (the essence of the business) are paid peanuts and often have to claim “benefits” to make up their income, which is paid for by the public purse. I’m not an expert on housing or employment but it seems the experts aren’t either 🙂 I’m engineer and know a bit about computers, I analyse information and extrapolate solutions by looking at the big picture. I tend to be rather brutal because I am grounded in reality and this can cause some people to be offended but am I bothered 🙂

Housing, why is it a problem?

In a nutshell, it’s because we don’t have enough houses, it’s a no brainer! Housing or “shelter” is a basic need, pretty much along the lines of food and water. If we go back far enough in history, if you wanted shelter (from the elements) you just found an empty cave or constructed some sort of shelter to give protection from the elements. It seems that over the years the provision of shelter/homes has become a cash cow for the few and this has become compounded by the concept of “land ownership”. In reality, no one has any legitimate claim to own land because the Earth doesn’t have a sales office to sell land. This means that land ownership was originally achieved by force or threat of force and because it’s gone on so long it appears to have become acceptable to sell something you down actually own and to buy something that can best be described as stolen “property” that you still don’t own!

Housing is problem because it has become embroiled in the “supply & demand” arena, coupled with greed and the reluctance of goverments to build enough “social housing”. Ignoring the “stigma” that social housing has aquired, it should actually be the defacto standard. People are born and hopefully have somewhere to live, they become adults, they want to start a family and need somewhere to live (separately from their “family home”), eventually they die and because they can’t take the house with them; it then becomes available for new occupants! Not rocket science!

Housing is a problem because humans are pretty successful when it comes to procreation so over the years the population has expanded and in some cases “exploded” but it seems no provisions were put in place to house the future generations. Instead, this was left to the “private sector” to build homes for purchase or rent to enable them to profit from a basic need and this is very much akin to drug dealers only much worse because there are a lot of parasites to feed! The problem has been compounded by allowing houses to become in a poor state of repair but still charging high rents for houses that are damp and in poor condition.

The solution to the housing shortage is to build more houses to make sure everyone has a home!

Not that easy though is it 🙂 Coupled with the housing shortage problem, we have the fantasy world of finance, created by banks and financial institutions where they can lend the same £ / $ (etc) to hundreds or even thousands of people and it’s all based on the “I promise to pay the bearer“! The banks don’t build houses to sell or rent, they lend you the money to enable you buy a house and that means you are then gambling on your future capabilty to keep up with the mortgage payments. You are considered to be the legal owner of the house and as such you have to carry out all the maintenance and keep it in good repair but in reality, the house isn’t really yours until the last penny of the mortgage is paid. Mortgage is derived from French, it means “death pledge” or “pledge to the death”. If you don’t keep up with the mortgage payments, the bank get you evicted then they sell the house, usually at much less than the market value, and if there is a shortfall they still come after you for the remaining mortgage. They don’t lose but you lose everything! In reality, if you need a mortgage to buy a house; you can’t afford it!

What about the people building the houses for sale or rent, where do they get the funds to do so, you guessed it; the bankers! You could say that “without banks, there would be a lot less housing” and you could also say that “if the public purse was used to provide more houses, the banks wouldn’t make as much profit”, both are true of course.

Housing should primarily come from the public purse and be based on rental. As the cost of building the houses is recouped, future rents should go into the housing fund to continue building more houses to cater for the growing population. An allowance being made for those that want to purchase houses via a mortgage.

Maybe we need more people like Titus Salt, Joseph Cadbury, George Peabody etc but the public purse is big enough, if it’s managed properly. There would need to be some protection built-in to prevent  the funds being misappropriated to leave a shorfall as has happened with the pension fund, which means we all have to work longer and can’t get a state pension until we’re a lot older!

Generally people buy houses and take the “pledge of death” because they compare paying rent all their lives and ending up with nothing to show for it, with paying a mortgage for 25 or 30 years and having a pile of bricks and mortor that they can’t take with them when they don their wooden overcoat! But at least, their offspring will benefit!

If it costs pretty much the same to buy as it does to rent, buying makes more sense! If rents were a lot lower (compared to a mortgage) and based on the actual cost of building the house with a pay back period of about 25 years, buying might not be such a good idea.

To be fair, it’s likely that houses that are “bought” by the occupiers will be kept in better condition and there is a lower chance of the occupiers living in a sh*thole because they will want to keep the value of the property as high as possible. There we go on the slippery slope, housing is a basic need not a profit excercise!

Social housing should not be seen as a “stigma”

Social housing should be:-

  1. The leader in eco – friendly and energy efficient homes because the cost is (initially) coming out of the public purse.
  2. Adaptable and provide more than just the basic need of protection from the elements.
  3. Suitably spacious, not cramped and pokey. Space based on number of occupants.
  4. Desirable for most people. (cost next to nothing to keep warm and pass surplus energy to the grid)
  5. Customizable to suit the occupiers “nature”. (within reason)
  6. Affordable even for the low paid. (Vital)
  7. Community minded, encourage good neighbourly behavior.
  8. Designed to encourage steps toward self sufficiency with community gardens and maybe vertical farms!

Conclusion

There should never be any housing shortages in an affluent society. Public funded social housing should be the main stay of housing and it should always be the leader in eco friendly and energy efficiency.

We need to root out and remove the greed and share the wealth!