Houses for sale in Cambridge. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo Housing Mortgages becoming a privilege of the rich
Why does nobody address crippling private rent (Nils Pratley, 21 November)? Why is it OK for my daughter and boyfriend to pay someone else’s mortgage by renting and having to share with several other people, only living in a room, sharing a bathroom and small kitchen and no communal area, not being able to afford to rent a place of their own or to get a mortgage, despite both working. If people can afford to pay rent they should be able to get an affordable mortgage. My daughter could never afford a property over £250,000, so a new allowance for properties up to £300,000 is an irrelevance.
My husband and I both work more than full time. I work two jobs and we only scrape by; we could not afford a mortgage now if we were first-time buyers. I am guessing that the young people who can afford £300,000 on a house are young professionals on a very high wage or are from a wealthy background where they have help? My daughter and her boyfriend both have degrees and have been saddled with debt. Sadly, we, like many parents, are not in a position to be able to help. The government needs to look at more social housing, charging people who own more than one property extra tax for each additional property, and ensure rents are capped.
• Nils Pratley is certainly right that the budget response to the housing shortage is not radical – but what would have been a really radical approach? The answers are simple. 1) Revive a land value tax to recoup for communities the massive windfall going to landowners as a result of planning permission. 2) Encourage local authorities to build for housing needs in their areas, by allowing them to borrow prudentially – while ending the absurd Treasury convention that such borrowing, which produces long-lived public assets, has a purely negative effect in terms of the public sector borrowing requirement. 3) Scrap all right-to-buy schemes in England as has been done in Scotland. 4) Introduce immediate rent regulation in the private rented sector and plough the resulting savings on the entirely unproductive housing benefit system into the building of new, truly affordable social renting.
None of this is difficult and much of it was embraced by governments from 1945 until the late 70s, including the most successful post-war housing minister, Harold Macmillan. But none of it will be taken up by the Conservatives because they are the captives of landowners and big private developers, are themselves frequently private landlords, and because, as Nick Clegg’s memoirs tell us, in the words of David Cameron, building council homes “just creates more Labour voters”. After 40-odd years working in housing, I despair of the mindset of those who now purport to lead us.
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