NO one reading the near constant coverage in the press of the UK’s housing crisis would think that either the shortage of accommodation or inflated prices and rents that define it have anything at all to do with immigration-driven population growth.
Last week’s was no exception. From the Times came another cri de coeur about the additional million young adults still living with their parents, condemned to be priced out of the market. Today a quarter of those aged 20 to 34, about 3.4million people, are still in their family home, rising from 2.4million in 2003. The reason? They all – house builders, campaigners and commentators – agree. Landbanking and complex laws are to blame. We need look no further for an explanation than naughty developers holding back on building tens of thousands of homes a year (despite a relaxation of planning laws designed to address the housing shortage) to maximise their future profit and the bureaucracy that they in turn blame. Both may indeed be factors, but this is to wilfully ignore the most fundamental cause of all: demography – meaning significantly increased demand due to dramatic population growth.
Around this a wall of silence is maintained – you can’t mention the i-word when it comes to housing, education or hospitals. Yet you have to wonder how provision is to be planned if is not accounted for.
Migration Watch alone defies this ‘Ministry of Truth’ as they just have again in their summer newsletter (you can sign up to it here) and their latest numbers breakdown:
Net arrivals to the UK since 1999 total 4.7million; and since 2009 the figure is 2.5million – an average and unprecedented net migration since 2009 of over a quarter of a million a year. The direct and indirect (births to immigrants) impact of immigration has added 6million to the population since 2001 and has driven up house prices by about a fifth (1991-2016). This interestingly is according to the government’s own analysis.
If England is to cope with the current level of net migration (England is where nearly 90 per cent of immigrants head) we will, according to Migration Watch, need to build a new house every six minutes.
You can read their overview on immigration and housing here.
It’s high time well-intentioned charities such as Shelter who are demanding hundreds of thousands of homes be built for social housing, did too. Until they face facts and accept that a major reduction in immigration must be a significant part of the solution, the supply of housing will neither catch up with need nor become affordable again. So much for those they purport to care for – the homeless and aspiring home owners.