The ONS figures released today show that first-time buyers are paying nearly £200,000 for their first home. This is simply unaffordable for ordinary people, and will leave most younger adults with no choice but stay put in unsuitable rented accommodation or depend on their relatives for shelter.
Avoiding excessive mortgage lending will help to lower prices, but ultimately we need to build more than double the number of homes we are currently building in order to bring house prices back under control.
Most of the pressure on house prices is in the South and East of England. So concentrating on building homes around cities like London, Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol and Bournemouth will play a crucial role in meeting the needs of millions of people so they can take their lives off hold.
Unfortunately, it is in these most unaffordable places that opposition to building new homes is strongest. Here, the greenbelt has been made synonymous with the English countryside, rather than the crude planning tool it has become. Greenbelt land helped to constrain development in a different time, but now acts as a straitjacket on the lives of millions of people, by preventing houses from being built in the right places.
We need to accept that the status quo of ever-rising house prices is damaging society, and that improving people’s lives means adjusting our entire approach to the housing market. Those of us that are left priced out of a home of our own need to play a big part in bringing about the changes we need by telling our local politicians that we are not going to accept a lifetime of insecurity from a housing market that is failing us.