In a rather condescending White Paper the UK government has put forward a plan to “incentivise older people to downsize their properties”. In the week when it was reported there are in excess of 1 million empty properties across the UK, it seems the UK government is taking a whole different tack towards the UK property market. So what exactly is the government planning?
It is difficult to understand how the UK government intends to “incentivise” people to downsize their larger properties. The idea seems to revolve around the building of more sheltered accommodation offering a variety of services for those in their later years. However, many of those in question will have acquired their property some time ago and will be reluctant to let go of their “family home”. Indeed a number will already have put in place inheritance tax planning to hand over their properties to family.
There will be many people in retirement that would prefer to live in sheltered accommodation, where they can perhaps interact more regularly with people of a similar age with similar interests. However, surely this must be their choice and not the choice of the UK government?
One million extra homes by 2020
We all know that a relatively small band of national developers have a stranglehold on the UK property market. The UK government wants to break this stranglehold by encouraging councils, housing associations and smaller developers to get more involved in the property market. The idea is to build an additional 1 million extra homes by 2020 although, as we touched on above, there are currently 1 million empty properties in the UK, surely they can be put to better use?
It is difficult to understand the way in which politicians think sometimes, especially when it comes to property. There is no doubt that a significant increase in the rate of newbuilds is required but what about redeveloping homes currently empty and often dilapidated?
The Tory government promised that green belts cross the UK would be protected in the longer term. This comes at a time when developers are desperate for new land with many eyeing green belts up and down the country. It is therefore surely the government’s obligation to protect these green field sites – but it does appear they are changing tack. Under the new proposals councils would be able to wave through planning permission on some green field sites but only in “exceptional” circumstances.
There is a concern that these circumstances will become “unexceptional” in the longer term and we will lose much of our valued countryside.
Talk is cheap
As opposition politicians have pointed out, there have been in excess of 1000 property -related announcements by the UK government since it came to office. So, after this flurry of announcements how do we find ourselves in the current situation?
In reality the property market has been massaged, manipulated and constantly underfunded by UK governments going back many years. This is not a relatively new phenomenon, because if you think about it, it is in the best interests of politicians to keep property prices moving higher in order to attract the maximum number of votes in general elections. What is the best way to maintain forward price momentum?