“The idea of the home can define a Conservative agenda for the twenty-first century. Homes are a symbol of social justice – of private ownership – of security – of independence from intrusive government – of local identity – of embryonic community life…”
It is in this light that ConservativeHome warmly welcomes David Cameron’s ideas for increasing home ownership – launched yesterday. Mr Cameron – and shadow housing minister Michael Gove – plan to empower council tenants by encouraging them to convert rental payments into a mortgage (see Telegraph report).
The bottom line objective for the Conservative Party must be to reduce house price inflation. David Cameron was clear that that required greater supply of housing but was less forthcoming on the need to tackle escalating demand. In yesterday’s speech he talked about the need to incentivise local communities to embrace housebuilding in their backyards but offered nothing on limiting demand through, for example, tackling family breakdown or reducing immigration. [Downland a pdf of the Tories’ ten key housing proposals].
One of the main imperatives for reducing house price inflation is the role that it plays in delaying family formation. David Willetts has rightly argued that high house prices are "a very powerful contraceptive". The declining birth rate of western societies – and the demographic timebomb it is producing – are examined in an excellent article in today’s Australian by Mark Steyn. Mr Steyn warns:
"Seventeen European nations are now at what demographers call “lowest-low” fertility – 1.3 births per woman, the point at which you’re so far down the death spiral you can’t pull out. In theory, those countries will find their population halving every 35 years or so. In practice, it will be quicker than that, as the savvier youngsters figure there’s no point sticking around a country that’s turned into an undertaker’s waiting room…"