How to construct fairer access to housing

The government’s housing policy fails to grasp the nettles of lending and land reform at the heart of the housing crisis (Everyone is entitled to a stake in the nation’s soil and bricks, July 24). Doing as little as possible in order to avoid losing the votes of houseowners, or to win the votes of those who cannot get on to the housing ladder, is not a housing policy.

The rising value of land will continue to lead to ever-expanding inequalities in wealth as long as politicians treat it like a market with unlimited supply. The richer the wealthy become, the more they compete for the limited supply of land, squeezing poorer households with ever higher rents and the middle-class taxpayer with ever higher housing benefit, likely to exceed £20bn next year.

The taxation of land is back to front. It is taxed with business rates and council tax when in use but never when it lies idle. An annual land-value tax on all land, replacing the deeply regressive council tax, would discourage speculators from leaving property idle while waiting to sell and take the capital gain.

Increasing the supply of housing will not catch up with demand or reduce prices for decades, if ever; so the regulation of lending to prevent banks flooding with money a market in short supply should be reintroduced.

Finally, such schemes as community land trusts and limited liability partnerships, which remove land from the market in perpetuity, enabling rent and purchase at affordable prices, should be given maximum support by government.

Paul Nicolson
Chairman, Zacchaeus 2000 Trust

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