L&G: Housing market is socially unacceptable

Speaking at the Council of Mortgage Lenders annual conference in London earlier this morning Wilson told delegates that long-term house price inflation – which he traced back to Margaret Thatcher’s Right to Buy scheme which encouraged the selling off of council houses – had left young people in the lurch.

Addressing a packed conference theatre at The Royal College of Surgeons, Wilson said: “We are a nation obsessed by house price inflation and we saw it as a socially good event if house price growth was rapid.

“We think it is socially and economically unacceptable. We are not allowing them [young people] to achieve their aspirations.”

Wilson went on to argue that equity in homes owned by the over-60s should be unlocked to ease the supply crisis. Currently 83% of over-60-year-olds own their homes outright, representing some £400bn-500bn of untapped housing wealth.

“That is a huge market we are largely ignoring, and a lot of family houses can be freed up for the next generation if we can get that moving,” he told delegates.

A Stamp Duty waiver for older borrowers could, he went on to say, be an “investment worth making”.

“It would free up money that is being locked up and take pressure off the overstretched and underfunded social system,” he added. “The vast majority of older people can be helped into owner occupied housing without any direct delivery costs incurred by the government or local authorities.”

Wilson also called for investment in cities outside London such as Newcastle, Glasgow, Belfast and Bristol.

“We can’t rely on London for economic growth,” he said. “Our cities are in the UK are not over-built; they are underdemolished.”

However Wilson was quick to distance himself from suggestions this could mean building on Green Belt land, saying: “We have to have real urban strategies as that’s where people want to live and work. They don’t want three hour commutes into London. We need intra city not inter city developments – that’s Crossrail initiatives rather than HS2 initiatives.

“We need transport improvements to reflect the way people live and how businesses live.”

And he added: “We have to be working together – the politicians, the local authorities, the money people like ourselves, the builders, the CML, the regulators most importantly of all have to be in in the tent with us. The maths simply doesn’t add up at the moment.

“People can’t get access to the housing market.”