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CEP election analysis
Paul Cheshire and Christian Hilber
November 2019
Paper No' CEPEA051:
Full Paper (pdf)

Tags: housing crisis; affordability; substantive reforms; starter homes

Housing affordability is a key concern of an ever-larger fraction of UK voters who are crammed into artificially limited space. It also underlies the sense of being shut out of prosperity and unable to escape declining local economies. The historical rise in the real price of housing means a lot of wealth is now tied up in housing assets, mainly in land as a financial asset, reflecting its shortage, and there are many vested interests in keeping things this way (such as well-established homeowners and landlords). Substantive reforms could solve the housing crisis, but with a few honourable exceptions, politicians, especially ambitious ones, of all stripes, back away from such reforms out of fear of being demonised by the vested interests. Instead, proposed policies tend to tackle the symptoms – rather than the causes – of the UK’s housing crisis; or worse – like the Starter Homes scandal – they are designed just to give the appearance of caring. This election analysis provides an overview of the key issues and the underlying causes. It discusses the merits and demerits of key policies. It concludes with a discussion of those reforms that ought to be on the policy agenda.

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