How house prices are destroying family life


High house prices may make homeowners feel rich, but many commentators feel this comes at far too high a price. Now planning minister Greg Clark says it's not just causing homelessness, overcrowding and stress, it is ruining family life too.

But how is this possible, and does he have the right solution?

Ruining family life
Clark made his claims at the Conservative Party Conference. He said the attack on family life was threefold.

First, he said families were being unsettled by the curse of rental properties. They were often being forced to move at the end of their tenancy periods, especially as buy-to-let landlords decided to put up the rents or sell up and get out of the game altogether. It made it impossible to put down roots.

Second, families were being forced to spend a small fortune putting a roof over their heads, leaving nothing left to spend on their children.

And third, in order to afford a property they were making compromises which seriously affected their family's happiness. This included living in properties with no gardens and living in cheaper areas away from the support of family and friends.

It's hard to argue with any of these things. To this you could easily add the woes of cramming into a tiny home with lots of unsettled children, and keeping a family together amid the endless stress of making ends meet after paying your expensive mortgage or rent.

Is this the solution?
The controversy surrounds the proposed solution, and the government's efforts to change the planning system. Clark believes the answer is to ease planing rules, to enable more homes to be built, and therefore bring prices and rents down to more manageable levels.

This is meeting resistance from those concerned about a building free-for-all, despite endless government assurances that they love the countryside. It is also causing a certain amount of disquiet among homeowners.

It might be great news for families without their own home, but what if you live in a property near a new development made possible under the rules? You suffer a double whammy: you have paid a massive premium in an area where housing is short, only to watch the supply change and your price fall. At the same time you have the horror of watching new properties flood the market so that no-one wants to buy your more elderly one.

If you fall victim, you then become trapped by negative equity, and face a whole new range of attacks on family life.

Clearly this solution is not a cure-all, but is it the right solution, or is there a better approach? What do you think? Let us know in the comments.
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