A question of scale

by Readers Question

14:20 PM, 28th August 2019
About A year ago

A question of scale

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A question of scale

I was recently watching a documentary about Albert, Prince Consort, and his magnificent efforts to provide housing for the poor in the 18th Century. I also highlight the magnificent efforts of George Cadbury at Bournville and Joseph Rowntree in the North East of England.

There were, of course, others who made commendable efforts. Since those days the Population has swollen! The issue of Housing can only be tackled by government with a total overview.

Prince Albert, Cadbury and Rowntree were involved with what we now refer to as “New Build” on Virgin Land. There are insufficient buildings in towns to convert to provide sufficient housing.

Converted Office blocks are simply no good for providing family housing. It needs to be a minimum of a two bedroomed house with a garden albeit modern thinking is that it should be a minimum of three bedrooms which increases costs by about 15%.

Of course, organisations like Shelter are all very good at telling us what is wrong but not too good and coming up with suggestions on how to overcome the problem.

Planning is much streamlined these days! Indeed, planning consent is not required to convert Office Blacks in towns. Consequently, we have to accept that as things stand there is going to be insufficient houses for the next 30 years going by present figures of housing demand.

Where does the Private Sector Landlord have an input?

The PSL with an average of just one house looks upon himself as an “investor” not a provider of housing for those in need. That is the role of HMG (devolved via Local Government).

The Investor seeks the best Investment Opportunity and perhaps the Stock Market is not for him. He is interested in the “End Product” rather than the “Interim Product” of rent which services the mortgage. There is no better investment than bricks and mortar.

Well we all know that otherwise they would be looking elsewhere for Investment Opportunities. The “Investment” return is governed by Mortgage Rates which are extremely low at present but also by HMG’s tax regime.

The only answer to the Housing Crisis is to attract more Private Sector investment, but a present HMG is driving it away due to ill thought out taxation measures.

Boris, put your thinking hat on!

Fergus Wilson


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Comments

Denise G

9:33 AM, 29th August 2019
About A year ago

Aside from Prince Albert's, many major historic housing schemes such as the ones you mention, were funded by very wealthy men - but very wealthy men who were also Quakers, or Friends ( a historically Christian group of religious movements formally known as the Religious Society of Friends, Society of Friends or Friends Church) so they were not just religious men but men with a social conscience who truly believed in valuing their workforce and giving something worthwhile back to the workers whose toil had made them rich.
I'm not sure we have any such people left in this country (or even in the western world) anymore who have a social conscience on that scale.

Beaver

9:56 AM, 29th August 2019
About A year ago

Until 1965 companies were taxed at the same income tax rates as individuals. And in the 1800s income tax was low. So I'm guessing that many of those very wealthy men could afford it because they weren't paying ~20% corporation tax or much income tax. And they probably felt good about doing it because it will have really made a difference to people without healthcare, refrigeration, or possibly shoes.

I do wonder about housing policy at the moment. There is a rush to build on green fields and we have housing targets but there's also a lot of talk about wanting to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Targets for planting trees haven't kept up with that - it's been an afterthought. But land with trees on doesn't do a very efficient job of feeding people so if you cover much of your land with new houses then much of the rest with new trees that doesn't do much for your balance of payments deficit because you'd have to import more food to feed all the people in those houses, unless you went for a much more intensive system of agriculture.

Having policies that favour regeneration of areas that are already housed (that means favouring employment) in parts of the country that need it would probably help that problem rather than just building on green fields in the South East, or Cheshire.


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