Despite the fact that wealthy landowners across the UK have been “an easy target” for politicians of late it seems that they now want a favour from the U.K.’s 5000 wealthiest landowners. A report by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) will be presented to the government with the conclusion that wealthy landowners hold the key to the problem of affordable homes in rural areas. It will be interesting to see how the authorities react to this report as it also contains data suggesting rural economies have been decimated by the housing problem.
Reports suggest there is a 76% shortfall in rural housing across the UK which is forcing house prices higher and many people to look elsewhere. The inability to maintain a stable rural economy has had a material impact upon many areas of the country. On the surface this may look like a major problem which will take years to solve but the Rics report suggests that if just 10 additional homes were introduced to each of the 1600 small/market towns across England this would solve the current issue. So, an additional 16,000 homes across 1600 small/market towns is all that is required to put rural economies back in good health?
Should wealthy landowners help?
When you bear in mind that, in tandem with bankers, wealthy landowners across the UK have been ridiculed, criticised and presented as the devil incarnate by many politicians and leading figures why should they help? We have seen the introduction of new laws in Scotland which take away much of the power landowners have over their own assets. There has been an array of tax increases across the UK property market with more expected to follow as the politicians look to fill holes in their budgets. So, are UK landowners in the mood to help the authorities solve what has been a problem for decades?
Is the price right?
It will be interesting to see how UK landowners react to the latest suggestion by a prominent and well respected think tank. However, as many of the landowners in question are business people and long-term investors, what price can they expect if they look to release some of their land assets?
Why should long-term investors be forced to “give away” large areas of their land portfolios when perhaps they can gain a higher price further down the line? Those that do decide to reduce their land portfolios will no doubt be criticised for “selling out” and blotting the beautiful landscape of the English countryside. In many ways long-term landowners cannot win because while they require a return on their investments to make them worthwhile, up until recently politicians have placed many hurdles in the way of their quest to build houses.
Apparently, now that it suits the politicians and will no doubt go down well with UK voters, there would appear to be little in the way of barriers for house building? Whether or not English landowners respond positively to this request by Rics, which is likely to be endorsed by the UK government, remains to be seen. However, some politicians may rue the day they looked to paint land and property owners as the devil incarnate?