The Resolution Foundation is calling it a real crisis since the UK government will face an increased bill for housing benefits once millennials reach retirement with the cost rising by more than 10 billion pounds. In order to improve the situation, the think tank is calling for a cap on rent increases in the private sector for three years.
Sputnik: What do you make of the report and the solutions it is proposing?
Hanna Szymborska: The Resolution Foundation has been some really great work on bringing the housing data to light because this type of data is tricky to obtain and interpret and we need more work like this really to understand the extent of how home ownership deprives British society. Also to design the right policies that will solve the problem rather than contribute to it as has been the case. We need to remember that inter-generational disparities are only a reflection of broader wealth and equality.
Sputnik: What can the government do to start to improve the situation?
Hanna Szymborska: in terms of ratifying this crisis, for immediate action I believe we should have a well-designed property tax which should be progressive and able to pick up non-resident owners and owners of multiple properties. Proceeds from this tax should fund medium to long term initiatives like rent subsidies for low income families, building truly affordable housing, which should be led by the state not the private developers. These new houses should satisfy quality standards that are really important.
Sputnik: Is Britain’s housing problem now developed in a full blown crisis, how can this be ratified?
Hanna Szymborska: I do see it as a crisis, just last week we found out that several Cabinet ministers earned rental income as landlords, with Jeremy Hunt owning seven properties and that’s not a surprise really and on the other hand homelessness is the biggest in a significant portion of UK population and they can’t even dream of owning their own home or even living in a good quality accommodation, rented or owned. This extent of inequality and the lack of explicit government strategy is what really elevate the situation to the rank of a crisis in my view. In fact the government has been directly contributing to this building crisis for decades, starting with the Thatcher government in the 1980’s
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