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Kristian Niemietz has a familiar but worthwhile CAPX piece on UK housing.

1997: the last year of pre-housing-crisis Britain

1997 was, in lots of ways, a watershed year for Britain. I’m not just talking about Princess Diana and Tony Blair. One could also think of 1997 as the last year of the pre-internet and the pre-mobile-phone age. Both technologies already existed, but for most people, it was still possible to ignore them, or even be unaware of them: only about 15% of households had a mobile phone, and 7% had internet access. A year later, these proportions would jump to 26% and 14%, respectively.

It was also the year when Britain relinquished control over its last remaining major colony, Hong Kong, which makes it the symbolic final year of the British Empire. It was the year of the Devolution Referendum in Scotland, marking the end of Britain as a fully unitary state.

1997 was also the last year of pre-housing-crisis Britain.

Short but well worth reading as a reminder that hopelessly inadequate housing policy combined with a policy of mass immigration doesn’t make sense. Not unless we assume that governments are remarkably incompetent, remarkably indifferent or possibly both. 

After 1997, the situation went from bad to worse, and then from worse to much, much worse. By 2004, the ratio of house prices to gross annual salaries had jumped to 6.6. Today, it stands at 8.3 for England as a whole, 10.1 in the East of England, 10.8 in the South East, and at 12.5 in London. The homeownership rate among people in their early-to-mid 30s has dropped to below 30%, and the proportion of young adults still living with their parents has jumped to 27%.


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