Sunday, 23 October 2011

Report That Older people 'hoard' family homes

The very idea that people might be encouraged to leave larger underused homes seems to have hit a raw nerve with the Tories. 'An Englishmans home is his castle' was all very well but we have been heading for a shortage for a number of years, mostly thanks to the Tories (and Labour who had similar policies). Selling of council housing made Maggie Thatcher very polular but sacrificed future generations for the then residents, who largely did very nicely. This was folowed by a failure to build any more of them.

The thinktank Intergenerational Foundation said that 16 million people live in underoccupied homes and there were 25 million empty bedrooms. IF, which is a non-party political charity campaigning for the rights of “younger and future generations” in British policy making, said that the lifecycle of housing was “breaking down” as older people “hoarded” family homes.

The report says: ‘Whilst these older groups may think they are keeping an “asset” for future generations, the negative impact is felt primarily among the young who face higher lifetime levels of debt and smaller living space as a result.

What they ignore at their peril is a housing crisis. Shelter says 'More than two million people find their rent or mortgage a constant struggle or are falling behind with payments.'

Greens have a plan to sort this out, a land value tax. Underused porperties will generate a higher tax than smaller ones so encouraging people to move. The LibDem 'Mansion Tax' would go part of the way, as would giving the current system proper banding. But the big three parties are not brave enough to announce that the wealthy would have to pay more, so instead those least able to afford it are suffering.

Empty properties should be encouraged to be used first, empty buisnesses could be converted to housing when they have been unused for years.

I would also want to increase tax on second homes, it just seems wrong to me that the wealthy can have two or more homes while the young cant get their first one.

Some politicians want to see us build our way out of this problem, but as the best sites are taken this would mean using more marginal land, increasing flooding. Lets use what we have better, its more efficient.


Jonathan said...

The Lib Dem's mansion tax is intended to solve a different problem. There are a lot of apparently very wealthy people living in big houses who declare less income than a cleaner. We can work to close the tax loopholes and hope they don't find new ones, but a property tax is much more difficult to get round, as you can't move your Knightsbridge mansion offshore, even if it is owned by an offshore company.

Adrian Windisch said...

Sounds like a good idea. Update the bands we use now to reflect actual house prices and that would also work.