Ruth Davidson’s Call for More Housebuilding

Unherd

Planning law privileges those who already have property – disadvantaging the young and poor/.

We will need to be particularly bold when we see restrictive practices. Too much profit comes from tax avoidance, land speculation, financialisation and other unproductive economic activity, rather than through innovation and high performance.

Closing loopholes, increasing enforcement and overhauling regulatory frameworks can go some way to addressing the creeping cronyism that is making free market capitalism an unfree and anti-competitive capitalism, but this stick approach should only be one half of the story. Government also has the ability to set the tone and the direction of travel by using its vast array of levers and resource as a carrot, too. It should do so…

 

Similarly, policies of ‘help to build’ rather than ‘help to buy’ will do more to address the inability of young people to get on the housing ladder. The biggest ally we have in increasing housing supply is beauty – if new houses complement the local environment and avoid the disastrous design choices of the past we can help build sustainable local support for extra construction.

While Thomas Picketty’s claims of capital growing without bounds at the expense of workers has been disproved by – among others – the Brookings Institute in Washington DC, its analysis of net capital share shows that housing is the only area where capital income displacement of labour income is apparent….

In short, the multiple instabilities of insecure employment, opaque career progression, wage stagnation, high rental and commuting costs and growing financial barriers to home ownership clearly explain why Britain’s young adults don’t feel they have a personal stake in a system that doesn’t work for them….

It is not enough for government to facilitate a discussion about where next for Britain, it has to actually lead. The short-term, election cycle nimbyism of prohibitive planning laws needs to cease and there is no room for one-of-the-in-crowd Davos sycophancy either. At home and abroad we need to press the case for fairer markets.