Sir, John Kay’s article “ Building blocks” (House & Home, November 11), on how to solve the UK housing crisis, is wrong to claim that the least bad solution is more local authority housing. This means “council houses” no matter how it’s dressed up. The stigma matters and should be avoided. A better solution is to expand social housing obligations on housebuilders and to compensate them by speeding up the planning process. Instead of requiring 15 per cent of homes on a development be affordable, make it 50 per cent but allow the development to be finished quicker.
Professor Kay assumes greater housing volume can simply be “switched-on”. Not so, shortage of skilled labour means housebuilders struggle to build more with the cost of skilled trades having surged in recent years. Given that we are unlikely to admit more skilled labour from other countries — and in fact the opposite may happen — it is better to give housebuilders the incentive to train British workers to have the necessary skills. Politically acceptable and genuinely useful all around.
Phoenix Asset Management,
London SW13, UK
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