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Our perverted measures of affordable housing

Summary:
A useful example of how polluted, perverted even, political language can become. We’ve a claim here that creating more housing reduces the amount of affordable housing there is. This is also being said with an entirely straight face, despite the obvious point that increasing the supply of housing by just the one unit makes every single unit of housing in the country that infinitesimal fraction of a percent more affordable:Office buildings being converted into flats is driving the shortage of affordable homes, local government officials have warned. Town hall leaders claim that more than 13,500 affordable homes have potentially been lost across England over the past four years due to rules allowing offices to be converted into housing without needing planning permission.The Local

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A useful example of how polluted, perverted even, political language can become. We’ve a claim here that creating more housing reduces the amount of affordable housing there is. This is also being said with an entirely straight face, despite the obvious point that increasing the supply of housing by just the one unit makes every single unit of housing in the country that infinitesimal fraction of a percent more affordable:

Office buildings being converted into flats is driving the shortage of affordable homes, local government officials have warned.

Town hall leaders claim that more than 13,500 affordable homes have potentially been lost across England over the past four years due to rules allowing offices to be converted into housing without needing planning permission.

The Local Government Association (LGA) looked at the number of office conversions carried out under the permitted development right, which allows homes to be created without going through the planning system.

If you go through the planning system then in return for being granted the permission you must build - or reserve from those built - some units of affordable housing. The definition here being below market price. So, if people are allowed to just build housing without going through the planning system then there’s that shortfall of below market price housing being produced.

Which is, of course, the real complaint here. That bureaucracy isn’t gaining those new assets to have control over, that “affordable” housing to be allocated by the bureaucracy.

The solution also becomes obvious. Bin the entire system of “affordable” housing and get on with building more so that all housing becomes more affordable.

Which is where that perversion lies. We don’t want to build below market price housing in the slightest. We want to lower the market price of housing. Which building more does and building more without paying a tithe to the local housing department still does. The only reason this isn’t starkly clear being the manner in which political language has perverted this obvious truth.

As Kingsley Amis did point out, more means less. Greater supply means a lower price.

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Tim Worstall
Tim Worstall is a British-born writer and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. Worstall is a regular contributor to Forbes and the Register. He has also written for the Guardian, the New York Times, PandoDaily, the Daily Telegraph blogs, the Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2010 his blog was listed as one of the top 100 UK political blogs by Total Politics.

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