If you haven’t heard, Generation Rent is growing in the UK. Soon there will be more renters than home owners. This is not necessarily a problem if the rental stock is affordable, of high quality and if the support structure is in place like in Germany.
But unfortunately, that is not the case.
However, a shift in tenure will also mean a shift in power. We can already see this as both the Conservatives and Labour aligning their policies to scramble towards the growing number of voters cut off from owning their own home.
This is a much needed shift in power. For too long politicians and planners have been cautious to upset the powerful home owning voting masses. Many new developments get rejected by NIMBY (Not In MY Back Yard) residents who lobby local politicians to reject planning applications. The pressure of the housing crisis will drown the cries of these residents and force the hand of politicians and planners to support the new housing that we need.
I have been thinking about the shift in power and inequality in property for a while and in reality it’s not just regarding housing. Wealth inequality across the UK has soared since the 1970’s – The rich are getting richer and all the others are getting poorer. The top 1% of the population earned 6% of the UK GDP in 1970 and today they earn over 14% of the UK GDP. In my previous post I also explained how 1970 was also when public bodies stopped building homes and began relying on the private sector.
If you are interested learning more about the deliberate growth of wealth inequality, I highly recommend Jacques Peretti’s recent 2-part documentary on BBC Two: The Super-Rich and Us.
As much as I despise the growth of Generation Rent and the fact that many intelligent, hard working people are locked out of home ownership for no fault of their own, the benefit is that as more voters join the Generation Rent camp, the more collective power we will have to lobby against the government for real, bold changes. Things such as; reducing the leverage of NIMBYISM, removing the short-term thinking of politicians at all levels, empowering Local Authorities to borrow against their assets and build more homes, forcing developers to use land or loose it through Compulsory Purchase Orders, increasing tenants rights etc.
We re the ones who can transform Generation Rent into Generation Build, if the Public and Private sector won’t build the homes we need then we will have to.
Power to the People Indeed.