Is the enthusiasm for housing issues a passing fad, like mullets or Rubik's cubes, or here to stay, asks Richard Lambert, chief executive of the National Landlords Association.
The year 2012 will live long in the memories of Britons for many reasons.
Ask the punter on the street and they might recollect with rose-tinted spectacles a year of incredible sporting success. Maybe some will view 2012 as the year of the double dip recession and European economic uncertainty.
For those in the Housing industry 2012 could be, with the benefit of hindsight, the year in which housing became mainstream. Mainstream in the sense that political ideological debate and economic theories are being viewed through the prism of house building. Historically, the building of houses was seen as a fundamental issue in post-war Britain. The Labour Party and Conservative Party of the 40’s and 50’s vied to be seen as the champions of building Britain from the debris and ashes of war.
This year the emphasis on construction as a method to achieve economic growth has found traction within the public and politicians. Labour has sought to reconnect with its traditional left-wing base by promising radical house building funded through the sale of 4G licenses. The Coalition Government have unwritten the risk of house building to the tune of £3bn and encouraging more institutional investment into the sector.
In the age of austerity some observers will ask why housing. Housing is close to our hearts in Britain. The old adage says ‘an Englishman's home is his castle’, a secure sanctuary where we can live in freedom. The message of building more homes resonates with the public where home ownership is at an all-time low of 65%. The economic argument is clear - building more homes creates more jobs and greater tax revenue. The benefits of an increase in supply would reverberate around the sector helping ease the disproportionate demand of first-time buyers, private renters and social tenants. The affordability gap, which the current home owning generate never faced, would shrink as supply caught up with demand.
Perhaps the enthusiasm for housing issues is a passing fad, like mullets or Rubik's cubes. It is up to the industry to press the Government, Opposition and all stakeholders to hold true to their commitments and promises. We can only hope that sense, economics and the right to a home for all prevails.