What kind of ‘castle’ do you live in?
PUBLISHED: 09:39 13 October 2017
An Englishman’s home is his castle but that ‘castle’ is getting more and more out of reach for many, says Joe Pattinson, from Newbury New Homes.
Et domus sua cuique tutissimum refugium, “For a man’s house is his castle” was apparently a phrase used by Sir Edward Coke in 1644. So what form do our castles take today? Well six out of 10 of us live in the good old British semi, about a quarter in detached houses and the remainder in flats.
In Spain a massive 7 in 10 live in flats with only a fifth in semis and the remainder in detached homes, while in Germany more than half live in flats, a quarter in detached houses with a miserly 15% enjoying the delights of a semi., which probably explains a lot.
Spain has a 15% higher rate of home ownership than us whilst Germany is nearly 12% lower than the UK level of 63.5%. I am no analyst but do these home ownership figures show some interesting anomalies? Germany is the richest country in Europe but its home ownership rate is nowhere near that of Romania but higher than in affluent Switzerland. So a nation’s prosperity does not mean that its citizens are rich enough to buy a house. Indeed it seems that the more prosperous a country is the more home ownership falls away. It may be part cultural, but a successful economy like that of the UK, sucks people in, forcing up demand and with it, prices. It is now impossible for a couple on average wages to buy a semi in London and the south east.
As it has become increasingly difficult for first time buyers to get started, there has been a concentration on the lack of “council housing” or social and affordable housing as provided by Housing Associations. By comparison with the rest of Europe we are actually doing pretty well. The UK, at 18.3% has more than twice as much subsidised housing as either Spain or Germany, with the UK having the second highest (after Slovenia) level of subsidised housing in Europe. But, as it used to say on my school report, we must do better.
Here is the problem. Housing benefit payments are made to 5 million, and have risen by £7 billion since 2009 to £23 billion today. At the same time capital spending for new homes has fallen from £11.4 billion in 2009 to £5.3 billion in 2015. Capital expenditure is now just 0.2% of GDP or less than a third of the overseas aid budget. The government needs to find a way of reversing the seemingly inexorable rise in housing benefit and transfer that saving to capital expenditure. (I am available for a small fee minister – well not that small.)
At Newbury we are proud of our contribution to affordable housing and will be delivering over 40 affordable units in the next 12 months including many specialist homes for those with disabilities.
You can contact Joe Pattinson at Newbury New Homes on 01603 520000 or www.newburynewhomes.co.uk
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