Colin Hines Has A Plan!

Let’s build houses where no one wants to live!

That appears to be the result of the National Plan from the Green New Deal group. Of which, of course, Ritchie is a member:

The UK’s increasingly bottom-heavy economy and jobs market (The great migration south: four out of five private sector jobs now created in London, 27 January) demands policies that will benefit the whole of the country. It was to tackle this growing north-south divide while helping protect the environment that the Green New Deal Group recently published a National Plan for the UK.

This calls for a £50bn-a-year green infrastructure programme, funded by a crackdown on tax-dodging and green quantitative easing, to make every building in the country energy-efficient and to build hundreds of thousands of new, affordable, sustainably sited, energy-efficient homes. Such a “jobs in every constituency” approach would create employment, business and investment opportunities in every city, town, village and hamlet in the country.

So everyone wants to live in the south, far from the lands of barms, and so the solution is to build lots of houses where no one wants to live.

I wonder what system of propizkas is proposed to make people live in these new houses?

40 thoughts on “Colin Hines Has A Plan!”

  1. Move the capital to Berwick. It solves so many problems. But, you say, many civil servants won’t want to move. Sack ’em and shrink the state.

  2. Isn’t that what HS2 is all about? Whereas in reality it’ll probably make England even more London centric.

    > I wonder what system of propizkas is proposed to make people live in these new houses?

    I imagine it’ll be along the lines of moving the BBC to Salford. All he well heeled will just get on the train from London. Doomed to failure.

  3. Capping housing benefit at say, the price of a house in Leicester would reduce the demands on London. As would shifting local spending towards rates and away from grants and towards council tax. If Londoners had to pick up the tab rather than getting other parts of the country (or taxpapers in future) to pay for it, we might see far less demands on London.

  4. “green quantitative easing”

    What does this mean? I’m very, very far from being an expert in economics, but I managed to wrap my head around QE (I think – central banks buys up lots of bonds, thus freeing up the money supply? summink like that).

    Given that this is a Green, I’m fully aware that it may mean nothing at all.

  5. They have this idea that if you build lots of houses in the middle of nowhere, jobs will magically appear in that area. And actually that is true – while the houses are being built. Problem is, when the houses are built the jobs vanish….

    But is this so very different from a policy that aims to create jobs by subsidising people to buy houses?

  6. I’ll live one. I can do my job anywhere. Since these properties will have negative value, the rent will also be negative, right?

    Sign me up!

  7. Ok, so a bunch of houses are built. Need shops, schools, bin collection, road access etc. Great – what then? ‘Benefits street – Green version’? Or will companies look at the vast areas of houses with few businesses and think thats a good place to recruit staff and build the business?
    Hey, instead lets build a load of houses and people can commute to work. Say a hundred plus miles a day in order to move people to less crowded areas eh? Thats green isn’t it?

  8. Frances Coppola: “They have this idea that if you build lots of houses in the middle of nowhere, “

    Well, that’s how it works in ‘Sim City’, and the like…

  9. Dennis the Peasant

    Green QE: dan certainly got the 2nd part right.

    The first part (“Green”) is when Colin Hines, Richard Murphy and, oh hell let’s throw in Howard Reed for good measure, looked at this and thought “Wow, now we get to spend like there’s no tomorrow and it MONETARY not fiscal.” So, instead of the BoE buying gov’t bonds, maintaining the money supply and supressing interest rates, they’re going to force the central bank to issue loads of new money to buy newly created bonds, money the gov’t then takes and pisses up against the wall, sorry, Invests In The Economy, by building sustainable housing WHERE IT IS NEEDED thus creating jobs and communities and milk and honey overnight.

  10. Julia-

    Sim City is an interesting example of the assumption that governments generate society, the economy, etc. You plan, build “infrastructure” and the economy just magically appears in (Keynesian multiplied) proportion. Until a giant monster arrives and knocks it down again.

  11. Now, we’re going to build new housing “Where It Is Needed”. It turns out it is needed on Brownfield sites, former industrial heartland type places and other spots that have entered their romantic consciousness. It absolutely isn’t, IS NOT, where people sort of WANT TO BUY. So stop being so bloody vulgar Frances.

    P.S. I live in one of those parts of the North where people want to buy and where by weird coincidence builders want to build…and which by even weirder coincidence has become what our local MP describes as “an area of outstanding natural beauty”. Does anybody know of an area whose natural beauty isn’t outstanding?

  12. Martin>

    “Hey, instead lets build a load of houses and people can commute to work. Say a hundred plus miles a day in order to move people to less crowded areas eh? Thats green isn’t it?”

    If done right, it might actually be a sensible, environmentally friendly way of going about things. It’s certainly a good solution from other perspectives.

    Of course, doing it right means having a proper high-speed rail line running 24/7, and integrated connecting transport options at both ends. But if we did that, we’d have a roughly half hour train ride, making the commute very feasible, and turning the new build into what would effectively be a new suburb of London.

  13. In other words Dave they can build around Birmingham ready for HS2 when (if) it gets built.
    Not noticed a major shortage of housing around here.

  14. Frances Coppola

    “But is this so very different from a policy that aims to create jobs by subsidising people to buy houses?”

    Without wishing to defend what is after all a market intervention by a government that has been spluttering of Red Ed’s silly interventions, it is a bit different. This isn’t a subsidy to build houses where nobody wants to buy them; there is at least demand for the houses, post a marginal adjustment/government intervention.

    I also wonder whether the sole effect is on price. We only ever seem to discuss the housing market in terms of price. My anecdotal and very unscientific observation of the past 5 years though would be that volume was impacted far more than price. That would make sense, large mortgages meaning people just can’t drop the asking price even if they wanted to.

  15. Sounds like a good plan except on how to finance it. Land Value Tax would do the trick combined with many more public sector jobs and Whitehall departments being moved out of London, including Parliament. Worked wonders for Manchester and the BBC.

  16. “Rather than handing the money over to the banks, who then sit on it”

    I thought 95% of QE was used to buy government bonds, so that the people who had previously owned them could buy some new ones, thus artificially keeping down Gideon’s cost of borrowing and surreptitiously dumping the cost onto the rest of us by debasing the currency.

  17. Is there an alternitive to the borrowing?
    Cutting NHS budget perhaps, maybe reducing the air force by 10% and so on?

  18. Splendid idea.

    As mine host knows, a writer can live anywhere they choose.

    So Dick (please don’t mistake this for familiarity, Mr Murphy) can be one of the first to move to somewhere out in the wilds.

    Don’t hold your breath…

  19. Ironman

    Right to buy is a transfer from taxpayers and non home owners to home owners. In the old days (eg before this last crisis) economists basically didnt care too much about asset prices because they represented shifts in wealth between different groups – nowadays we worry about real economic effects from asset bubbles (equity withdrawal for example). So economists now worry about asset bubbles (except detecting bubbles ex ante is a pain in the posterior). The Green crap is worse in that we build houses where no one wants to live, so we are actively destroying wealth up front.

  20. As someone who lives in a northern market town, it’s wrong to say that no-one wants to live up here; in many areas no-one can afford to. Round here the Labour county council want to allow some building on a part of the green belt; the LibDems and Tories are ferociously resisting, pretty successfully thanks to local NIMBYs.
    As a result house prices, which were already high, have risen 8% here in the last year, which probably exceeds local pay rises by about 7.5%.
    In this case I think that bribing, or forcing, the locals to stop being selfish could be justified. Not least because the same people whine endlessly about how the town centre is declining. The fact that it may be related to a fixed population and everyone spending their entire income putting a roof over their head seemingly hasn’t occurred to them.

  21. So Much For Subtlety

    I might go along with this. Except solving the North-South divide is too naive and unambitious. I suggest we try to solve the problem of Third World poverty as well.

    So we build lots of social housing in Jamaica and Kenya. There is an extra Green bonus here – the weather is much warmer and so their carbon footprint would be tiny. Then the people who need it can stay there. True, there would not be much work for them, but the ganga is cheap and the beaches are nice so I doubt they would mind much. Their dole payments would go a lot further and help kick start the local economy.

    And they won’t be stealing my DVD player.

    A bit of a win-win really. As long as we can keep the little bas[email protected] from coming back.

  22. If we were to want to shift jobs from the SE to places where there are no jobs, surely building loads of houses in places where there are no jobs (and thus usually fairly cheap houses) is fairly stupid.

    Can’t even Lefty’s think of more logical (and radical) ideas?

    How about linking employer’s NI to average local house prices. Maybe bump it to 25% for Chelsea, and 0% or even slightly -ve in Stoke on Trent, Oldham and Liverpool? Couple that with a serious effort at cleaning up some of the more gang and drug ridden areas so that people are actually willing to live in the cheaper houses in these places (maybe have some deal where developers get some sweeties for sorting out all the boarded up houses in a street), and we could have a grand plan to save the country (or something).

    There are lots of good reasons not to do any of
    this, but it would be a plausible idea for debate that could move the distribution of employment round the country while being revenue neutral. Instead of which lefty’s want to talk about building “green” houses where houses are cheap anyway… It’s about time they grew up.

  23. As opposed to what? Pursuing the high house price – low wages policy of now? The surrealists could not have come up with anything weirder than that. Given a poll (see Mark Wadsworth curently )people vote for the no brainer: high wages low house prices. So how come we’ve got political parties campaigning for the exact opposite: the Homeownerist policy of economic death?
    Glimmers of sense here: Frances, Bill 40 and Alex.

  24. Alex

    Thanks for reinforcing my point about the North, or at least parts of it. The point about the market is there are many places in the North where people want to build and want to buy; not nearly as many as the South East, but many anyway.

    As to your local authority: a Nimby is a Nimby no matter what rosette he pins on his chest. Here in West Lancashire our local Labour MP appeared in all the local papers to promise to ‘defend the Green Belt’. Ed Miliband then promised to build houses, free up land banks etc and he has been left looking a bit of a chump.

  25. So, this ninny’s great idea is for governments to use cheap money to build loads of lovely house (and maybe infrastructure) in places where nobody has actually chosen to live.

    What could possibly go wrong?


  26. @SR
    As opposed to the current orthodoxy of building as few houses as possible, stoking house price inflation and both restraining incomes and taxing them.

    What could possibly go wrong?

    UK .

  27. Everybody wants to live in the south? Are you taking the piss? You can’t go down the road in Worcestershire and adjacent counties without hearing an estuary accent, so many people have managed to get out of London in the past decade or two. There’s a special new suburb of Worcester called St Peters, which appears to be devoted to housing ex-Londoners. An Martin Davies – being able to get out in to the countryside scores very highly for a lot of Brummies. No more houses needed in Brum except for ethnics, and they, like Tim Worstall, wouldn’t dream of living where there isn’t a lot of noise and crowds.

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