Social rent over owning a house?
There was an interesting debate on the BBC Laurence Reed show on affordable housing. I think after listening to the debate I think the bigger question is why we are in this Country obsessed with house ownership. I have come to the conclusion that we should move to a more European attitude of long term social rent. In the old days these were called Council Houses.
Sadly, these were sold off in the 80’s to the tenants. Now in principle I don’t have a problem with this, but what I do have issues with is how the money from the sales did not go back into housing stock. Sell the houses, but use that money to buy more. There is a dire shortage of social rental. If we build more of those types, then I believe that would go some way to solve some of the housing problems. It would also in turn lower the private rental as there would be more competition. I am in private rent, but I am lucky as the place I am in is well priced (I would always like it cheaper!) and the landlords are really nice. Any problems I have with the house are sorted really quickly.
A lot of private rent is very expensive; this is party due to the tenancy agencies adding their charges on top of what the house owner wants. This can be an extra £100-£150 on top of the rent. I know in my own area rental is an average £600-£700 per month. If these were social rents you could expect to pay around the £350 mark. That’s a huge difference.
Let’s stop building affordable housing as at the current guidelines of “Affordable” a 3 bed house is still around the £120k mark. In Cornwall that is not affordable. Lets look at building more of the social type with low rent. Sure put restrictions on who can have one of these houses like local connections, how long you have lived in the area to name a few. I don’t think anyone will have any problem with that.
The problem as to why we can’t just build more social rent is because you have to buy the land, and then build the house. This is an expensive process which in some cases makes it impossible to build house in certain locations in Cornwall. Should Cornwall Council take out big loans to pay for the building program, but would the tax payer be willing to pay an extra few percent on their Council Tax to achieve this? I think that is a completely different question in its self and one I don’t have the answer for.
Maybe you have views/thoughts? Would you be willing to pay a little extra in Tax if more social houses could be built? Happy to hear your thoughts.