The subject of housing after University might not illicit much interest in the average student compared to more noticeable concerns such as student loans. Yet you may have to add it to your list of worries.
Back in ye olden days of the 1980s a low to mid-earning family could save for their first house within three years. Now? The Resolution think-tank has estimated that the same family would have to save for twenty two years. If food prices had risen at the same rate as housing in forty years then a chicken would cost over £50.
It’s not a pretty picture. Many of you might shrug and gesture to the shining Bank of Mum & Dad. Indeed, the proportion of those relying on such support among first-time buyers has risen from one-third to two-thirds. For those less fortunate the future is one spent at home continually pestered by worrisome parents.
Why is this the case? Why are prices so high? Quite simply it’s a lack of supply; there aren’t enough houses in Britain to sustain the number of people looking to buy. For a temporary fix we need 220,000 homes, at least to stop inflation. Then why hasn’t it been done? Well, austerity has done little to gird the loins of developers but perhaps the central antagonists are the Nimbys; the Mr Burns’ of the housing sector. In their quest to stop development they are aided by newspapers that sensationalise the issue. Grannies across Britain have been spilling their tea in fear of ‘Concrete Britain’.
In fact, 93% of Britain remains rural according to Policy Exchange. Just 2% of the Green Belt would give eight million homes where poorly located brownfield sites could offer only one million. I’d really rather not cut into the Green Belt but what choice do we have? Is there another option? No, there isn’t. Students in this country get a bad deal; we don’t often vote so we’re not a threat (why do you think pensions remain as high as they do?). It’s time we looked ahead, past university, and engage with the looming issue before us.
Jamie Hodsdon (@jodderwock)