” the government pretends the real cause of unaffordable housing is a shortage of new builds. It uses this argument to provide cover for further taxpayer-funded subsidies and tax breaks that benefit its property-owning core voters, its close allies in the construction industry and property market, and its supporters in the City of London.
But the evidence is clear: increases in housing supply, and a contraction of demand thanks to a fall in the number of households, have not dampened prices. At last count, in 2014, there were 28 million dwellings in the UK, but only a predicted 27.7 million households in 2016. As the director of consulting at Oxford Economics, Ian Mulheirn, highlights, London’s number of dwellings grew faster than the number of households between 2001 and 2015. Similarly, in Ireland more than 90,000 homes were built in a country of just 4 million people in 2006, and yet prices continued rising – by a whopping 11% that year.
To make things worse, land has a financial advantage that bitcoin lacks. It is a physical, low-risk asset against which both homeowners and financiers can borrow, quickly creating new money. For many homeowners, homes virtually became cash machines in the 1980s and 90s. Today many buy-to-let owners borrow against the monthly income they get from renting out property.