housing crisis

Housing crisis could be “solved” by 2035 with key reforms, says think tank

Free market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs has released a report looking at the potential state of the housing market in 2035, suggesting that the current crisis could be solved with the implementation of key reforms between now and then.

The report outlined that housing is currently under-supplied, too small, and too expensive to meet the UK’s needs, with more than one million people on social housing waiting lists.

However, Kristian Niemietz, editorial director at the Institute of Economic Affairs, described a “decade of reform” that could have the potential to solve these issues.

These included expanding planning permission and diluting the power held by local obstructionists, in order to create a house building boom and in turn, relief for renters.

Niemietz said: “The flooding of the rental market with new rental properties [would] put landlords under a degree of competitive pressure they could not previously have imagined.”

More house building would also help first-time buyers, bring prices down – particularly in the capital – and reduce pressure on social housing, cutting waiting lists and saving taxpayer money.

The suggested policy changes would start slowly, with the Government paying off local anti-housing campaigners by transferring some of the benefits of local development directly to those most impacted by new housing, as well as devolving new income tax powers to local authorities.

This, the report argued, would put local governments in a better position to upgrade infrastructure in line with new housing, and incentivise more planning approvals due to the need to compete with other local authorities for tax revenue.

In 2026, the report suggested Government then expand automatic planning permission on greenbelt land around commuter stations to create ‘urban growth boundaries’.

The report also recommended pro-housing policies such as Street Votes and the revival of the New Towns Policy, prompting a nationwide move towards rules-based planning systems.

Niemietz said: “Why did Britain ever inflict this crisis upon itself?

“Why did this country so needlessly impoverish itself for so long?

“Why did Britain ever give so much power to a minority of obstructionists and troublemakers?”

He added: “The purpose of this report is not to come up with any novel policy ideas for how to solve the UK’s housing crisis: the solutions have been there for years, and everyone who is even vaguely familiar with UK housing policy knows what needs to be done.

“All this report does is show what would happen if we actually did it.

“The future described in this report is necessarily fictional – but it is not at all pulled out of thin air.

“If the political will were there, this could very easily become our reality.”