Where do these people get their economics from?

An increase in housing supply will do nothing to reduce prices if it caters for an entirely different demand.

You what? Seriously, where is this piffle being cooked up?

The proposals would allow for new developments to be almost twice the guideline size for affordable housing.

Eh? So building twice as many houses won’t increase the supply of housing by, umm, twice as much?

The impact of a free-for-all will be huge – not only because developers are likely to prefer to convert remaining heritage outbuildings, but because of the chilling effect this prospect is already having on schemes to build homes for local people.

Since the reduction in capital grants, the best mechanism for creating affordable housing has been through granting planning permission on so-called exception sites. Where the landowner knows there is no possibility of selling to developers at open market housing rates, affordable housing is cross-subsidised by a small percentage of open market value properties.

But with the prospect of a free run at open market development with few strings attached, values are set to rise sharply and we will kiss goodbye to the only realistic opportunity for development land at prices that can deliver housing for local people.

Lawksalive. She really is insisting that building more houses will raise house prices.

Suburbanisation of our national parks might also deliver the final coup de grace to their fragile ecosystems, already under pressure from changing grazing patterns over recent decades. While cattle and sheep make way for pony paddocks in lower lying areas, loss of grazing livestock from the open moor will lead to a further degradation from heather to gorse. Who can blame them if hill farmers, asset rich and cash flow near zero, opt to fragment or sell their holdings and livestock. They have long struggled to maintain their way of life with scant recognition of their service to conserve this precious landscape on our behalf.

And then she worries that more entirely unproductive land might be opened up as space to build those scarce houses upon?

Sarah Wollaston is a Tory MP.

We’re fucked, aren’t we?

32 thoughts on “Where do these people get their economics from?”

  1. A Tory MP you say? Yeah, we’re fucked.

    Housing economics apart though, my favourite moment is this:

    “…loss of grazing livestock from the open moor will lead to a further degradation from heather to gorse”

    That’s right; leaving it to nature will destroy the ecosystem.

    Somebody please tell me I have read that wrong at least.

  2. “We’re fucked, aren’t we?”

    Yes, yes we are.

    The Left’s long march through our institutions has yielded an entire generation of politicians who have a skewed view of the political landscape.

    And so we have a Marxist (Miliband), a socialist (Clegg) and a wet liberal (Cameron) all competing to fawn at the feet of communitarians Barroso and Obama.

    For a naturally conservative country like England, this probably means societal fracture at some point in the near future.

  3. She’s not a Tory, she’s a metropolitan imposition designed to spike the guns of the Guardian and the BBC by virtue of possessing a fanny.

    Though in that sense she shows that, yes, we are fucked.

  4. Spain and Ireland show us that if you build enough houses they become very cheap.
    Sadly that is unlikely to happen here.

  5. Could her being a Tory MP not be an explanation?
    A fall in house prices is a bit like contemplating leprosy. Any reason to think it not possible is preferable.

  6. @Interested

    “She’s not a Tory, she’s a metropolitan imposition”

    She may well not be a Tory (although she was chosen by a local primary) but she has lived on Dartmoor since 1996, so only an “imposition” in the sense of not having family living there since the days of the Domesday Book.

  7. They’ll prove black is white to prevent any more houses, ever, being built in a Tory constituency like this.

    Under no circumstances must the fragile windfall gains, er I mean ecosystem, be threatened by the building of even a single extra house.

  8. Is she talking about the size of house that’s to be built? If the land is ostensibly for “affordable housing”, but the small print lets the developer build mansions instead (assuming there’s a market for them), then that is a problem of the policy implementation,isn’t it?

    This isn’t a comment about whether the policy is good or bad, but if the policy is to work as intended then this seems to be a problem.

    Lord alone know about the heather & gorse bit.

  9. The thing is that she’s not 100% wrong. It doesn’t matter how many planning permissions you grant under the current system, they’re not going to get built if the cost of building them (including getting the planning permission, which even under a so called free for all will still cost a packet) is less than what they can sell for. Ergo builders will continue to drip houses onto the market in numbers that don’t materially affect the market price.

    Its the difference between the incremental approach of the USA in Vietnam vs Shock and Awe in Iraq. What is needed is not so much as a pure market reaction (X more supply equals Y price reduction) but a change in attitudes of the population at large that prices of houses are not going to go up forever. Incremental changes in supply or costs are not going to change people’s minds that buying a house is the next best thing to owning a money tree. You need to fundamentally change the rules such that the market is never the same again. Abolishing all planning and building regulations for developments of up to X houses say, or allowing anyone to live on any piece of ground they own for example. That would shatter the current market pricing structure. Tinkering at the edges will have no great effect.

  10. @Shinsei ‘She may well not be a Tory (although she was chosen by a local primary) but she has lived on Dartmoor since 1996, so only an “imposition” in the sense of not having family living there since the days of the Domesday Book.’

    Yep, I’m on about the people who put her on the open primary for a seat in Parliament three years after she joined the party. Have they ever done that for anyone with what you might call sound economics?

    Mind you, I accept that ‘imposition’ was a bit strong – the voters voted for her (I suspect because enough of them have swallowed the Metropolitan cant that the possession of a fanny is somehow more important to politics that how the government raises and spends money, and legislates etc).

  11. So Much for Subtlety

    Ivor – “And so we have a Marxist (Miliband), a socialist (Clegg) and a wet liberal (Cameron) all competing to fawn at the feet of communitarians Barroso and Obama.”

    Or as I put it, three Lib Dem parties. In fairness none of them have enough spine or character to actually hold an opinion of their own. They just parrot what everyone else does.

    “For a naturally conservative country like England, this probably means societal fracture at some point in the near future.”

    Too late to vote, too early to shoot. It will come.

    Interested – “She’s not a Tory, she’s a metropolitan imposition designed to spike the guns of the Guardian and the BBC by virtue of possessing a fanny.”

    It is interesting to contemplate how much better the world would be if women were not given the vote. I know it is sexist. Doubleplusungood sexist too. But on the other hand, the Democrats wouldn’t have won an election since JFK at least. On the other hand British women have tended to vote Tory – and they read the Daily Mail which is as close as Britain gets to Fascism.

    bloke in spain – “A fall in house prices is a bit like contemplating leprosy. Any reason to think it not possible is preferable.”

    I contemplate a fall in housing prices all the time and I have to say it brings a smile to my face.

    Winter is coming. Time to invest in canned food and shotguns.

  12. The only way her argument works is if you look at things from an ultra local perspective. Converting more barns into homes isn’t going to make rural living affordable for low paid people because barn conversions aren’t cheap. But if urban people move into the country then won’t urban housing get cheaper as demand for that will fall?

    I can see some sense in the proposal. Large scale development tends to meet resistance and they’ll surely never seriously consider new towns due to the same kind of resistance. Building more homes by allowing hamlets to spring up is more likely to get more houses built and it is canny to take the view that if there is already something there then little harm is done if it is replaced by something else.

  13. But a lot of Tories are against house building and in certain ways, not particularly pro-free market (this government is giving grants to pop music acts, for example). Tories are often more interested in protestant values, like work ethics and clean living than productivity.

    It’s only the Redwood/Thatcher/Joseph wing that are pro-free market, and they’re currently sitting waiting quietly for opportunity to seize the Tories after Cameron gets a kicking.

  14. @SMFS ‘It is interesting to contemplate how much better the world would be if women were not given the vote. I know it is sexist.’

    I think it would be much worse – no reason to give men the vote just because they possess testicles than the elect women to Parliament because they don’t.

    What might make the world a better place is no representation without taxation, and no votes to anyone with a sub 100 IQ. I could add in no voting under 21, no MPs elected under 45 and a minimum quota of (say) 50% in each party to have worked in the private sector for say 10 years.

  15. Regretfully leaving Dartmoor to nature will destroy the ecosystem, it’s been managed in one form or another since the Bronze Age. Moving on…developers favour larger properties outwith the means of ‘local people’, in preference cramming a site with double the number of ‘affordable’ hutches. I guess building attractive, expensive properties frees up homes in the south east, as retirees move to the country. I suppose you can also argue it doesn’t make sense to provide low-income people with homes in semi-isolated rural environments unless as taxpayers you are prepared to subsidise them. Living in the sticks is hugely expensive, with no mains gas, zero public transport, and significant commutes to work/shop/play – local authorities have to provide taxis to ferry the kids to/from school. Hardly what you’d call sustainable/environmentally friendly.

  16. She is not as stupid as you think.
    What she is asking for is a compulsory subsidy from landowners to local residents who want to buy a house on farmland. Barn conversions are to be limited to “affordable housing” so landowners forfeit the difference between the market price and the directed price of the house, there is a marginal improvement in supply of housing to not uber-rich locals while the situation is made significantly worse for peoplw living outside the area because the rich buy up all the houses outside Dartmoor.
    This will boost her rating among the local LibDems who read the Grauniad and her chances of re-election.

  17. Suburbanisation of our national parks might also deliver the final coup de grace to their fragile ecosystems, already under pressure from changing grazing patterns over recent decades.

    The implication of that statement is that the grazing patterns around 1970 were optimal for the area. What the fuck is she basing that on?!

  18. @Interested

    No representation without taxation – agreed.

    Let’s go further.

    Publish net lifetime income tax contributions, by NI number.

    Then apply proportional representation – 1 vote for all eligible citizens and then 1 additional vote per £1,000 net lifetime income tax contribution (capped at 100 votes)

    Rich tax evaders/avoiders apparently don’t pay income tax so they only get 1 vote.

    Longterm welfare recipients would be in negative territory so only get 1 vote.

    Cater for outliers by multiplying the number of votes you get by a negative (never a positive) factor:

    Prisoner? Multiply by 0 while incarcerated (and don’t forget to deduct the cost of said incarceration)

    On a temporary work permit? Multiply by 0.5.

    You get the idea.

    Aside from the overheads in staying on top of the data, securing it and making sure the entitlements are applied come election time, can anyone see any problems with this?

  19. My farming neighbours could probably bore Mr Newman to tears about changing grazing patterns. I suspect it has something to do with Dartmoor being a marginal upland farming area, and changes to agri-environment subsidies over the years.

  20. Oh, I know about grazing patterns: they’ve been changing since time immemorial. But for some reason, we’re supposed to be concerned that they’ve been changing in the past few decades.

  21. What does affordable housing mean in practice?

    Is it just constraints on the initial sale price?

    Is it for particular buyers, or can anybody but it?

    Does some of it have top be rented as social housing?

    I know when I bought my house a couple of years ago, I bought almost the cheapest house going in the area (and am now paying for that in the amount of building work I am having to do in my weekends!). The only properties advertised as if they had anything to do with affordable housing were either half as much again as my place or some sort of shared ownership scheme which looked seriously undesirable to my eyes…

    Incidentally, I think we need to distinguish between cutting house prices in real terms, and cutting cash house prices. The former is desirable (I bought my house to live in, not to profit from), however the any significant amount of the later would make a big mess (we really don’t want half the country in -ve equity if we can possibly help it).

  22. “The proposals would allow for new developments to be almost twice the guideline size for affordable housing.”

    What a horrid idea, poor people in houses that are bigger than the minimum guideline size. Don’t poor people know their place any more?!

  23. Ivor
    No problem with the maths. And a half decent data base programme would handle it.
    But then, it would be run by the government. So would be a total clusterfuck.
    So no.

  24. So Much for Subtlety

    Interested – “I think it would be much worse – no reason to give men the vote just because they possess testicles than the elect women to Parliament because they don’t.”

    I disagree. I think it is much more reasonable. Democracy started out as crowds of warriors voting on their generals. Women do not pay the costs of war in the same way as men do – and they vote that way too – and so there is a reasonable ground to exclude them from voting. Although it has been welfare that is the real problem – women have voted to have other men in uniform take money from all men in work so that they do not need their husbands to look after them.

    “What might make the world a better place is no representation without taxation, and no votes to anyone with a sub 100 IQ. I could add in no voting under 21, no MPs elected under 45 and a minimum quota of (say) 50% in each party to have worked in the private sector for say 10 years.”

    I am all for the sub-100 IQ voters voting. In my experience they do better than Academics. I think MPs need more real world experience. And perhaps the rule ought to be that anyone who is parasitic on the rest of us should not have a vote? You collect welfare, any welfare, you don’t get to vote any more. You are not capable of living as an adult, you should not get to decide policy.

  25. So Much for Subtlety

    Tim Newman – “Oh, I know about grazing patterns: they’ve been changing since time immemorial. But for some reason, we’re supposed to be concerned that they’ve been changing in the past few decades.”

    Well yes and no. There may be some ecologically ideal grazing pattern that dates back to before humans came to Britain and screwed everything up. Presumably some sort of four legged animal now extinct did the grazing. So the ecological question is whether what we do now come close to that.

    There may be another optimum which is an aesthetic argument – some form of grazing may produce the most pleasing scenery or the most biodiversity or some other measurable good. I wouldn’t be surprised if all development in modern agriculture worked against both of those ends and so the grazing in the 1970s was better.

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