First-time buyers will find it harder to get on the property ladder if Britain votes to leave the EU, a group of 17 of the UK’s biggest housebuilders has claimed. The group, including Barratt Homes, Berkeley Group and housing associations such as Peabody, said in an open letter that Brexit would put the dream of home ownership at risk. It comes just weeks after a Treasury report also suggested house prices could crash by up to 17% in the event of Britain leaving the EU.
What the article does not mention is that with population growth, largely fuelled by immigration, demand for housing will continue to rise. Housing developers therefore have a good reason to support continued membership of the EU – more people equals demand for more houses. And more demand for houses is what developers want.
We would of course be better off with a stable or declining population in the UK. We might then actually provide enough good quality housing for everyone. Of course we also need to make sure developers provide the right sort of housing – housing to meet real need rather than to meet the demand for luxury housing for example. We also need to create a system where houses provided for rent are funded publicly rather than privately. Housing provision should not be profit led as with buy-to rent but need led.