When it comes to the creation of affordable housing, particularly truly affordable social housing, neoliberal government thinking still prevails after 50 years of questionable results. The tried but not-so-true prescription: back away from government regulation such as permits and by-laws. The free housing market will then deliver all the goods needed — housing for the rich, as well the poorest, industry actions guided in all the right directions by the so-called “Law of Supply and Demand.”
The United Kingdom, like other neoliberal governments, has nevertheless been loathe to experiment too fully by removing by-laws — most or all of which were originally implemented to prevent socially unacceptable results of dubious housing development practices.
Loathe, except in the UK for one grand experiment: to encourage the redevelopment of decaying industrial and commercial sites, where “permitted development” has allowed housing construction activity unfettered by irksome bylaws and regulations.
The result? However profitable it may be for the housing industry, permitted development is letting the nation down. KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) and basic “Economics 101” (Law of Supply and Demand) are wreaking particular havoc on the pressing needs for truly affordable housing, creating a “permanently temporary” supply of cheapest shelter, at a quality barely fit for human habitation. These deliver a down and dirty housing fix to stretch cash-strapped council budgets that many find hard to resist.
And that’s why councils can be heard pleading for help in relieving this drug-like dependence on trashy shelter. Read more in The Guardian: Empty offices must not become ‘rabbit hutch’ homes, say English councils
Meanwhile the nation waits, apparently in vain, for good old “Economics 101” to deliver the supply of adequate housing for low- and no- income citizens that is sorely needed. Without it, the growing ugliness of inadequate housing evokes memories of slum life at the turn of the eighteenth century, in particular the following article from Birmingham. Read more in the Birmingham Mail: ‘Sheer horror’ as 155 children found in one B&B in Birmingham during lockdown