Report a mispronounced word The FT’s report on the Taylor Wimpey chief executive’s view of the UK’s Help to Buy scheme records just one more criticism of a scheme that would be better described as “help to profit” . The chief impact has been to inject billions into the bottom line of mass housebuilders.
That this money might have been better spent elsewhere is now a statement of the obvious. Successive governments’ housing policies have been disastrous, failing to provide the genuinely affordable, well-built, appropriately located, secure homes that so many desperately need and want.
It is time that we rethought Britain’s whole approach to housing. A place to live is a human right, like clean air and water. Local governments should play a major role in guaranteeing that, with their potential access to land, ability to borrow long term and cheaply, and democratic accountability.
The homes need to be built to the highest standards of energy efficiency, for the benefit of both the residents and the planet in this age of climate emergency.
And households need secure homes, ones in which they can become part of the local community, give their children steady progress through schooling, where older citizens can build friendships that combat loneliness. We are seeing slow changes, with political pressure forcing modest increases in renters’ rights, taxation changes limiting landlords’ profits and councils allowed to borrow for building homes.
This all needs to move much faster. This is crucial for people and communities, but also our economy. Capital needs to go into productive assets, into an economy reshaped by the green new deal, rather than ever-rising house prices.