Thursday, 26 November 2015

Pricing most people out of ordinary life

For all his undoubted cleverness, and ability to pull the unexpected out of his red box, George Osborne's autumn statement made frustrating listening.

More support for 'local growth' but at the same time, more money wasted on roads to make sure the new small businesses and the new enterprise zones are overwhelmed by unrestricted monopoly power in the big centres.

More stamp duty on buy-to-let and second homes, which will undoubtedly reduce prices, but more help for first time buyers which will undoubtedly increase them - and especially in London. ]

In fact, the sheer cussed blindness about house prices is franking astonishing.  Does the Treasury really believe all the rhetoric about why house prices rise? Do they not understand that, if you make houses easier to afford, you will simply push prices higher?

As for 'affordable home's - it is a fantasy to suggest that just providing  20 per cent off the price will make homes any more affordable. Nor will building more, for the reasons I set out recently.

But there are two major frustrations about this autumn statement. The first is the blizzard of pork barrel giveaways to specific places, and funds for potholes, which involves us in another Westminster fantasy: that all good things, all decisions  all wisdom comes from central government - and they are received by grateful and passive localities with a cheer and a wave.

This is the British disease and one of the reasons why change is so slow in this country. Why on earth is Whitehall constructing a fund to fill potholes, for goodness sake?

The other frustration is the growing suspicion that ordinary life is no longer possible, or affordable, without major government intervention.  The idea that people earning over £80,000 will require help with buying a home carries within it a hopeless dependency - not just a culture of doing things for their symbolic value, but a worrying look into the future of complete dependence for the majority of people.

This obsessive idea that prices represent some kind of underlying reality has priced ordinary people out of ordinary life. It isn't conservatism and it certainly isn't sustainable.

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Oh - la -Non encore et toujours said...

Aren’t we living weird days? A Tory gov is lauded for spending money it does not have while selling a the dream of a deficit surplus in 5 years.

It sells his Nuclear White Elephant to the Chinese for a strange deal while it’s useless opposition is ridiculed for quoting Mao?

Is there something we don't see that is coming around the corner?

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