Friday, 29 July 2016

End of the Road

End of the Road

Uncertainty has hit the United Kingdom in the wake of the EU referendum. The most acute issue in my view is homelessness. The hostels and B&Bs don't have enough vacancies to accommodate people who have nowhere to live. Housing is a subject which has been avoided in this country for many decades, as a result there is a lack of affordable housing in our big cities, especially in London.

There has been inaction from the Government and there hasn't been a policy in place to effectively provide decisive solutions to ease this problem. Furthermore, the Government did not anticipate such a large population arriving from within the EU in the last decade. The net migration from non-EU countries also remains high. According to Government figures, the amount of homes built has hit a seven-year high as 37,080 new homes were built between October and December 2015, up 23% on a year earlier. Despite this rise, the number of homes needed to rectify the housing deficit is nowhere near the actual target.

The Government led by Theresa May must address the issue of housing especially after the 'Brexit' result. With a lack of supply and an unprecedented amount of demand, the new PM should promote revolutionary house-building projects, working with local housing authorities and Mayors, to solve this crisis. The key to solving this conundrum lies in our local authorities, who have the power to promote new housing projects but issues to do with bureaucracy certainly do not help to alleviate homelessness, which is worse than in other 'less advanced' EU countries, the Czech Republic for example. The new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has a big role to play in terms of acting as a gatekeeper for councils in Greater London to use existing brownfield land as well as TFL assets to create new council housing estates and develop community schemes to develop affordable housing.

There are indications that prices are falling because of the uncertainty created in the country in the wake of the EU referendum. Thus there is danger that an increasing amount of foreign buyers are acquiring a vast amount of UK properties and subsequently making it difficult once again for citizens living in the UK to own their own home.

Moreover action should be taken on unscrupulous private landlords who do not maintain their tenants' property to a satisfactory level and still charge premium rents in excess of £800 a month often for large families living in a single room in a shared house. Again there should be greater powers for the Government and local authorities to crack down on these landlords who do not provide shelter to acceptable or even basic standard to their tenants.

The housing market is a contentious issue due to conflicting ideas about how exactly the crisis should be addressed. Political parties are not part of the solution but rather part of the problem because they are squabbling between themselves and getting involved in personal attacks totally forgetting the bigger issue such as bettering the life of rough sleepers and failing to reduce long housing waiting lists. The only thing that is certain is that no one knows how long the uncertainty will last for.