Narrowing the Have and Have Not divide through a train and self-buiild scheme

COVID-19 has brought into focus the widening divide between British society’s ‘have’s’ and the ‘have not’s’. The have’s, generally knowledge workers, continue to work from the homes they own, earning comfortable salaries and with limited exposure to COVID. According to the ONS, 35% of a person’s wealth is tied up in their property. If you can afford your own home, you have capital. You are a have. The have not’s, generally service sector workers live in rented accommodation, may be on furlough or live under threat of losing their jobs in sectors such as travel or hospitality. Some have not’s are deemed essential workers through COVID; nurses, refuse collectors and supermarket assistants earning salaries that won’t allow them to afford to buy their own home. In England, the ratio of earnings to house prices sits at around 1:8. A typical earnings to mortgage ratio is around 4.5 times an annual salary. These essential workers are most exposed to COVID and the potential economic impacts of catching the virus. As property prices continue to increase, more people are becoming have not’s. During the pandemic, house prices have increased at the fastest rate for six years. If you don’t have capital, you can’t participate in capitalism. This negatively affects the have not’s perception of the fairness of the capitalist system. And perception is reality. Economists’ solution to price increases is to build more homes. With more supply, prices should decrease. But the problem is more complex than this simple ‘Newtonian Physics’ explanation of prices. It requires better use of land, availability of labour, availability of capital, incentivising local stakeholders, the wider property market and political courage. The greatest opportunity post- pandemic is to offer training, skills and capital to those affected through a huge ‘train and self-build’ home building scheme.




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