It's a fact that our housing stock is in serious need of replenishment. The governments plans announced yesterday may or may not help first time buyers, I suppose we'll find out.
I'm not so sure though that helping first time buyers is particularly the pressing issue. The people who need more affordable supply are young marrieds with children.
HMG is anyway, discovering some of the unintended consequences of other poorly thought out policies; in this instance the heinous rise in student fees without commensurate improvement in service levels at universities, (I know of students with no more than three hours of lectures a week). Wandering into this swamp, which is bare faced educational apartheid as far as English students are concerned, with careless disregard for the individuals, it's obvious that no civil servant in his briefing to ministers thought to look at the American experience. I'll save them the time.
There is a clear pattern in the US of first time property buying being impacted by very high levels of student debt. For what it's worth, there is also a corresponding rise in the suicide rate amongst the young and an effect on relationships; "do I want to live with someone who has $150,000 of debt at 23 years of age?" Obviously, the cost of education has risen, some universities have become "for profit," institutions at taxpayer expense and the US national debt has increased.
Back in April 2010 I offered this for inclusion in the manifesto to help the Tories win the election. I offer it again as a more elegant approach to getting the housing market moving;
"Match the requirement for the pension fund industry to meet it's long term liabilities with the chronic problems of housing affordablity for the lower paid and lack of housing stock.
Issue a 30 year 3% gilt and lend the money through state owned banks on 30 year fixed 4% terms."
I don't expect my low expectations to be met; you could hammer six inch nails into the foreheads of most of our politicians and it wouldn't make any difference to them so you won't be seeing it on the front pages any time soon.
Oh and while we've mentioned students we might also bring up this post, "Bloody students," in which I put forward the idea of matching the assets of the retired to the liabilities of the young on a national scale. Unfortunately, as a concept it has all the advantages of being original, mutually supporting and apolitical so it therefore has absolutely no chance of seeing the light of day.
Incidentally, and unfortunately for the students in regard to all these matters, they have proved singularly unable to articulate their view successfully or indeed to put forward supporting evidence for their case and instead, wander through Trafalgar Square every three months blowing whistles and chucking dustbins around. If they switched on they could easily build traction with the public who I sense, by and large, support them being the fair and reasonable bunch we are.