This morning’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline voting intention figures of CON 31%, LAB 38%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 12% (so underlining once again how UKIP appear to have declined a bit from from their post-local election high, but are still enjoying substantially more support than earlier in the year). Full tabs are here.

This morning YouGov also had a couple of questions on Julian Assange, spying and on Ian Brady. People have a negative opinion of Assange by 40% to 29%, asked what should happen to him, 43% think he should be left in the Ecuadorian embassy compared to 18% who think he should be allowed to travel to Ecuador. 6% would grant him asylum here, 15% would ignore international laws and diplomatic convention and forcibly enter the Ecuadorian embassy to arrest him.

On spying, following the Guardian’s story at the weekend, 79% think it is probably normal for governments to spy on each other at conventions. FInally asked about Ian Brady, 51% of people think he should be allowed to starve himself to death if he wishes, 40% think he should not.


111 Responses to “YouGov/Sun – CON 31, LAB 38, LD 10, UKIP 12”

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  1. Half time then.

    Labour. Its still yours to lose.
    Why note have a change of leader and appoint a woman?

    Conservative. You’re still going to lose.
    Why not use your friends in the media to expose UKIP’s economic policies?

    LibDems. You could well be in government next time. Only this time, it will be in coalition with Labour.

  2. Jim Jam,

    If Cameron succeeds in shifting the Tories’ image among the groups you mention, then he may yet go down as one of the Tory party’s most important leaders, because the difference in attitudes between young and old presents a long-run crisis for both the Tory party and the Labour party.

    Actually, it’s a horrible time to be a party leader: older voters are more politically active and the baby-boomers were a big generation anyway, yet getting them on side probably involves alienating the voters of tomorrow. So the short-term popular policies will sour the parties’ long-term prospects and vice versa.

  3. Chris T

    With different polls recently showing leads between 4-9% for Labour with 2yrs to go. Either of the two main parties are a good bet.
    I see Labrokes have got Labour at 11/10 and Tories on 7/2 so the odds are closing.

  4. Interesting looking at how the rise in Immigration as an issue (now the second most important issue in Yougov above) has corresponded with the rise of UKIP.

    Slide 6 here shows it quite nicely. UKIP identified an issue with a moderate level of concern, became THE party to address the issue and their vote rose and the issue itself became more important.

    http://www.ipsos-mori.com/Assets/Docs/Polls/May13IssuesIndexslides.pdf

    Time for other parties to take note and learn lessons. Look at housing in slide 12 above. Add to that the recent increase in house prices and there is a huge opportunity for a party to become THE party to sort out the housing issue.

    Also interesting to look at the weighting towards older voters. Yes, older voters have traditionally had better turnout, but there are signs the young are starting to mobilize. Another huge opportunity for a party to change the next election result. Engage the young, become THE party to address generational inequality.

    http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/05/30/uk-eu-youth-vote-idUKBRE94T0MK20130530

    So many opportunities still available to redefine the debate, engage voters again and change the outcome predicted above.

    UKIP lesson for the other parties is – select 2 or 3 issues and become THE party to sort out those issues. Talk mainly about those issues, raise their profile and watch your vote share surge.

  5. Actually the latest odds are: Labour Majority 5/4 Conservative Majority 9/2;
    Coalition of LD and Tories 6/1;
    Coalition Labour LD 4/1.

    My favourite odds however are: any Government involving UKIP 150/1

  6. YouGov have updated the selection of issues in the “Which of the following do you think are the
    most important issues facing the country at this
    time?” question, to add “welfare benefits” to the list for the first time.

    However, with that change the list of questions does read increasingly as if it’s been designed by someone on the political right. Right-wingers are now spoilt for choice in terms of their traditional dog-whistle issues, with “immigration”, “welfare benefits”, “Europe” and “crime” all featuring. So given that you can only choose up to three and the vast majority of respondents from all parties also choose “the economy”, it’s not surprising that “Europe” has declined upon the introduction of the new option, as those on the right choose “welfare benefits” instead.

    By contrast, those of us on the left might be left scratching our heads a bit as to what choices we have. For me, apart from the continuing long term economic malaise, my overriding concern in terms of the direction of the country is the record and rapidly growing level of inequality, accelerating under the present government. But “inequality” doesn’t feature, and a response of “taxation” hardly captures that concern and might be interpreted as meaning that I want even less of it. I suspect that Ed Miliband would find himself in a similar quandary.

    So if I were allowed to make three bespoke choices, I’d plump for “inequality”, “the economy” and probably “tax avoidance” or as a third. Given the choice actually presented, I’d probably pick “the economy”,”immigration” and “housing” – a very different set indeed. So as the choice very much dictates the type of concerns I can register, the value of the issues question itself seems, well, a bit questionable from a left-wing viewpoint.

  7. @ Phil Haines

    Ispos Mori does an unprompted issues index. “The questions are spontaneous – i.e. respondents are not prompted with any answers”

    http://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/3181/EconomistIpsos-MORI-May-2013-Issues-Index.aspx

    Results are pretty similar to what yougov are showing.

  8. @ Phil Haines

    Definitely agree. The choices offered are intended to be ‘issues’ but they capture concerns which are worlds apart.

    Income inequality is my main concern; that doesn’t get a mention despite it affecting – in one way or another – every working person in the UK.

  9. @Richard

    Are they? “Unemployment” and “poverty/inequality” feature in MORI’s list, but nowhere in YouGov’s.

  10. @Phil Haines

    Agree, those are missing. Personally I find the broad categories unhelpful. “Welfare benefits” – if I say that is a concern is that because they are too high (I guess that is what the Tory vi is saying there, or am I saying it is a concern because they are being cut and I can no longer afford heating (I guess that is what the labour vi is saying). Would be more helpful to have that split to understand what the concern really is.

  11. Re: 2015,

    The key questions are whether a) Labour’s vote is more robust than the Tory’s was in 2008 (with 99 weeks to go in 2008 the Tories were on course to get a majority of around 105 seats, but in the end were well short of an overall majority because their vote proved too soft/their election campaign was poor etc.), and b) whether EM’s personal ratings can improve – or if they don’t – whether his poor personal ratings will matter more during an election campaign. Will the fact that David Cameron is outperforming his party matter come 2015?

    That and whether the economy picks up IMO.

    I’ll be honest and say I haven’t a clue if 4-10% is a ‘good lead’ at this stage of parliament. I suspect no one really knows, including the polling experts like AW. All we can say is that the lead has fallen a bit in recent months but is still a substantial lead for Labour. Whether it will be enough for Labour to win a majority or form the next government is impossible to know at this moment….only time will tell, I guess.

  12. People might not like the Yougov list but like most used by pollsters it will have been compiled by looking at what people say the main issues are.

    If your priority doesn’t make the list it will be because you are out of step with the mainstream.

    My main concern at the moment is the referendum but constitutional change isn”t on the list as it just isn’t salient for most people.

    For me much more interesting is the gap between “Country” and “Family”.

    It would be interesting to see them graphed and to see what research their is to which is the one that most closely effects voting patterns, particularly with “switchers”.

    UKIP supporters are more concerned about immigration than anything else effecting the country ahead of the economy (92 to 59) but care more about the economy for themselves (53 to 44).

    Given the “Selfish Bastard” factor it may be that even a modest recovery could see UKIP’s fortunes suffer.

    For the Tories that would mean very much following Lord Ashcroft’s advice and focusing on fuel bills and pensions not immigrants and Europe.

    Peter.

  13. Generation Y: They are attracted by the person whose face is in the media most often. That is David Cameron at the moment, hence the seeming rise in popularity of the Tory Party amongst the GenY cohort. Remember, they are the Clegg mania poll pickers who delivered zero extra seats to the LDs at the actual 2010 election (-5 LD seats compared to 2005).

    Labour is still leading the field for this age group but not by as much as they did (according to the graun article). Getting younger people to actually vote has long been a Labour concern because they say 10/10 certain to vote – then they are ‘too busy’ on election day & don’t make it to the polling station.

  14. Mervyn King was outvoted on increasing QE today. Are the committee keeping their QE dry pending the arrival of the new ‘boss’? Or will Mark Carney find his hands similarly tied when he takes up the governorship?

  15. Confirmation if it was ever needed of the Tory profile in Scotland!!!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-22972020

    I suspect he said something like;

    “Try pulling the other one Hen”

    But then so have most of us!

    Peter.

  16. The new category of “Welfare benefits” (replacing Afghanistan) is a very bad idea for several reasons, apart from the fact that introducing any new category will tend to mess up the time series.

    There is a very real problem over ambiguity. Because it includes both those who feel that benefits (paid to other people) are too much and those who think benefits (paid to themselves and maybe others) are too little. Clearly the latter influences the ‘you and your family’ opinions where the ABC1/C2DE split is 9-20 and Labour and UKIP voters rate it much higher. But the ‘the country’ rating may also be more mixed between two very different responses as well – the Party split is more even than you would expect if it was all “Down with scroungers”.

    There’s also the problem that benefits are already there in the shape of ‘Pensions’ (MORI combine the two in their tracker).

    As others have already pointed out the questions are starting to resemble “Which right-wing scare story scares you most”, especially given the lack of Unemployment and any Foreign/Defence issues (except Europe).

  17. ‘UKIP lesson for the other parties is – select 2 or 3 issues and become THE party to sort out those issues. Talk mainly about those issues, raise their profile and watch your vote share surge.’

    Possibly true; but still no seats in Parliament…

  18. Back on housing and with the second hand spare home subsidy on route interesting survey today.

    The average single person in their twenties will now have to save for over 14 years before they can buy a home, says the housing charity Shelter.

    A young couple with children will need nearly 12 years to get enough money for a deposit. (Of course by which time the child won’t be young and will probably have siblings pushing off the purchase even further)

    I am not entirely sure how giving £120,000 subsidy to the offspring of those who have just received a 5% tax cut on a £600,000 property will play with people who simply can’t afford to buy even if they benefit from the scheme themselves.

    Most people under the age of 40 who don’t have a property already now do not anticipate ever owning one.

    Labour by proposing a policy of a significant social housing building programme and moving towards longer and more secure private tenancy agreements might do well in these Younger age groups

  19. I did a bit of “Spreadsheeting” on the difference between “Country and Self” to see what if anything it tells us. The fact that most are sub samples mean treat this with caution.

    On the main sample the two biggest discrepancies are Pensions and Immigration. On pensions people are more concerned about themselves +17 (28 to 11) while it is the other way round for immigration at -36 (52 to 16).

    For UKIP (sub sample) it is even more pronounced at +22 and -48! So what makes them vote fears for the country over immigration or fears for their own pension might make a big difference.

    Understandably for over 60’s it is +33 and -52, so they may well be more concerned come an election about the winter fuel allowance than someone coming over here to steal their job.

    I also looked at Scotland and to be honest there are some differences in emphasis but the only real thing that is different is that across the board the difference between the two figures are narrower.

    As to why Scots might (it is a sub sample) have personal concerns that match better with their feel of national ones, I have no idea?

    Any suggestions?

    Peter.

  20. AMBER

    @”Mervyn King was outvoted on increasing QE today. ”

    The minutes of the last MPC Meeting were released today.

    The meeting in question was on 5th & 6th June.

  21. TURK
    @”With different polls recently showing leads between 4-9% for Labour with 2yrs to go. Either of the two main parties are a good bet.”

    Another “7” today.

    Since December YG 7s have numbered :-

    Dec 0
    Jan 2
    Feb 1
    Mar 0
    Apr. 4
    May 3
    June 4 to date.

    Is this a trend -or random chaff do you think.

    It will need some 6s & the magic 5 to appear before I am convinced it is a trend.

    Things seem to be calmer on the party “internals” just lately-which is an improvement.

    Q2 GDP & employment / unemployment trends need to be positives.

  22. Colin/Turk

    Re: Closing of the lead.

    See Lefty’s graphs of the day at 10:21 & 10:23 here.

    http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/7657/comment-page-4#comments

  23. LEFTY

    Thanks.
    I read those at the time.

    I was just interested in Turk’s gut feel.

  24. Amber

    I think merv votes for more QE at every meeting, as for Carney, I believe that he will be pushing hard to buy other assets than gilts, maybe the rest of the board will be happy with that but some how I doubt it, they do seem to becoming quite hawkish

  25. Colin

    The feeling in the conservative party is the biggest danger to DC from his own party re a split over Europe has passed, and hopefully we will see a more united party from now on.

    It’s also thought EM has lost some momentum over the last couple of months especially over welfare reforms and to some extent education, at least over exams.
    Also we have begun to see some critisism of Labours handling of the NHS during there years in power with doctors contracts and the unnecessary deaths of patients, so more negative stories for them in the press and in the media, which makes a change.

    Also EM/EB critisism of the coalitition’s handling of the ecomomy may lose some traction as the year goes on with hopefully more positive figures coupled with the downward trend in unemployment.

    Of course there’s a long way to go but Labours failer to open a 15-20% lead during some of the worst press for the Tories I’ve seen in recent years regarding so many things, would indicate that the difference between them could shrink further over the next year with better economic news and a more positive press.

    We also see that group of people unsure who to vote for growing and support for UKip falling, creating a pool of voters that either party could attract to make that difference on the day of the GE.

    I think this will be one of those GE were current poll results may count for little, and it will go down to the wire with just a couple of percentage points between winning or losing.

    Of course I dont have a crystal ball but people in the conservative party are certainly more optimistic than a few months ago till the next crisis anyway.

  26. Turk – I think the point of change started with the budget being competent just like last years omni-shambles was the start of a big decline.

    The UKIP stuff is ephemeral and will cause embarrassment for the cons at the Euro-Elections when most likely they will come in third but by the GE the UKIP will be 5-7% imo.

    Only question is the mortgage support policy which may become difficult for the Government.

    Re Labour the trust on NHS and Education numbers don’t suggest a problem with voters and i would be surprised if the Government attempts to pin Staffs on Labour’s targets gained traction with the public. Or Indeed the GP contract.

    Tim Montgomory and others predicted that any NHS problems that arise will be associated fairly or not with the top down re-organisation and I believe this will be case.

    As ever the state of the Economy and living standards will be the main issue.

  27. Most people under the age of 40 who don’t have a property already now do not anticipate ever owning one.

    Labour by proposing a policy of a significant social housing building programme and moving towards longer and more secure private tenancy agreements might do well in these Younger age groups

    There is a much simpler way of dealing with the UK housing issue. (The issue of unaffordability that is).

    Banks/Mortgage lenders need to effectively became social landlords: so rather than selling a property with the intent to recoup the value in 25 years, they could sell people homes on a life-long low-interest repayement rate only.

    When the original purchaser goes to the great housing ladder in the sky, the house can then be passed onto the net generation or returned to the bank. The bank can then resell having lost nothing. Or the next generation can continue to pay those low repayments. And so on. Ad infinitum.

    Of course the option would be there to pay off the actual loan if people wanted to. But it wouldn’t be essential and so mortgages could be much (much) cheaper. And so much (much) more affordable.

  28. Labour by proposing a policy of a significant social housing building programme and moving towards longer and more secure private tenancy agreements might do well in these Younger age groups

    xxxxxxxxx

    The more switched on young voter might also wonder what Labour did in the area of housing during the 13 year spell in power they had, longer than Thatcher’s office…

  29. TURK

    Thanks very much for such a detailed response.

    I think you are right to feel things are more settled & supportive internally. One got a sense of that today at PMQ.

    I also agree that Labour’s final first foray into something which looks like policy detail has not been entirely a success for them. Education is the latest example-giving DC bullets to fire today. I have felt all along , that the missing bit in the current situation was Labour saying -here’s what we would do. The GE campaign can change everything.

    I think the economy too will be an increasing plus-at least in terms of headlines.

    The most difficult thing to judge though is public reaction . I think you are right about people being unsure how to vote.

    I still think a Con majority is a huge ask given the boundaries etc-and even largest party looks distant at present.

    Still-I agree with you that things feel a little better -hope the backwoodsmen stay in the backwoods !

  30. Rich,

    And making tenancy agreements less attractive for letters is hardly a good thing for those of us who don’t have tenancies yet. It’s great for those with tenancy agreements where the ink has already dried, but, as with rent control, it’s bad news for the next generation.

    The best way to get more housing would be to let people build more houses.

  31. JIM JAM

    You are right to remind Con supporters of Labour’s numbers on NHS & EDucation.

    I find them puzzling-but that is irrelevant-they are a strength for Labour on the face of it.

    I must disagree with @”Only question is the mortgage support policy which may become difficult for the Government.”

    All the noises & numbers coming from Housebuilders are that Help to BUy Equity LOans-the scheme which came in in April , & which only relates to new build, is doing what it was designed to do-increasing the number of new homes being built.

    The scheme extension to existing houses , set for January, is a different matter & I hope might be reviewed.

    New-build properties account for just 11 per cent of the housing market, and inflation is mainly driven by second-hand properties.

  32. Relieved & pleased to hear Hunt demand that NHS officials responsible for a suppressing investigation into University Hospitals Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust. should be named and shamed.

    The names of those accused of a cover-up were removed from an independent report into the Care Quality Commission inspection

    According to the Indy “Mr Hunt said that neither he, nor the chair of CQC had wanted the names to be redacted and may now ask the Information Commissioner to rule on the decision.”.

    I wonder if DC/GO will follow suit re Bankers & put the Tyrie recommendation to gaol bankers found guilty of “reckless conduct” into the Banking Bill?

    At PMQ today EM made it pretty clear that he didn’t believe DC would, despite the latter’s clear acceptance of the Tyrie recommendation. I have no doubt that the legal aspects -definitions etc-will be fearsomly difficult.

    But EM will make capital of this if DC does not follow through-or be seen to be trying to follow through.

    If the Government can add real accountability to it’s good record on transparency in these sort of cases, I think the public will respond positively.

  33. Colin

    “Relieved & pleased to hear Hunt demand that NHS officials responsible for a suppressing investigation into University Hospitals Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust. should be named and shamed.”

    Don’t be in too great a hurry to hear those names. During the statement today, Hansard has this recorded:

    Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab):
    The CQC’s chairman said on the radio this morning that he could not publish the names of those responsible for this scandal because of the Data Protection Act, but there are clear and explicit exemptions to the Act when it comes to

    “protecting members of the public from dishonesty, malpractice, incompetence or seriously improper conduct, or in connection with health and safety”.

    Will the Secretary of State please challenge the CQC’s interpretation of the Act and, if necessary, ask the Information Commissioner to rule on this flawed decision?

    Mr Hunt:
    I can reassure the right hon. Gentleman that neither the chairman of the CQC nor I have any interest whatsoever in keeping these names secret. He did receive legal advice telling him that he could not publish them, but I will go back to him with what the right hon. Gentleman says. I know that the CQC chairman would like to be as transparent as possible. The choice he had, on the basis of the legal advice, was either not to publish the report or to publish it without the names. I think he took the right decision, given the advice he had, but I will ask him to consider what the right hon. Gentleman says.”

    ‘Ask him to consider what the right hon. Gentleman says’ is hardly a declaration that those responsible for deleting the report in March 2012 will be named any time soon.

  34. CHORDATA

    I hope that when Hunt said :-

    “David Prior will now report back to me on what further actions the CQC will take in response to the report, including internal disciplinary procedures and other appropriate sanctions. The whole truth must now come out, and individuals must be accountable for their actions.”

    He meant it.

    We will see.

  35. @Bill,

    I think we all agree on here we need more building, but as somebody else noted very insightfully, changing living patterns with more young single people isn’t helping either.

    Rich

  36. @Rich
    ” Labour by proposing a policy of a significant social housing building programme and moving towards longer and more secure private tenancy agreements might do well in these Younger age groups”

    xxxxxxxxx

    “The more switched on young voter might also wonder what Labour did in the area of housing during the 13 year spell in power they had, longer than Thatcher’s office…”

    ———–

    They did tear down a lot of sink estates and replace them with better quality housing. But did next to nothing to resolve the shortage of social housing.

  37. Lefty: “absolutely rock solid in the 25-40% range” – well, today it’s 22.5% !

  38. Banks/Mortgage lenders need to effectively became social landlords: so rather than selling a property with the intent to recoup the value in 25 years, they could sell people homes on a life-long low-interest repayement rate only.

    ***********

    That one’s never going to fly – the laws of compound interest mean that lengthening the term makes surprisingly little difference to the monthly repayments required. If I borrow £100k, @4% it will cost me about £530 a month over 25 years, or £430 a month over 40 years. Even going interest only doesn’t save much – that”s £330 a month, and you’ve got to pay that as long as you have the house.

    There’s a reason why the rental prices of houses is usually the same or more than the cost of a fairly sane mortgage on that same house…

    The underlying problem with houseing is due to a lack of supply anyway, due to planning restrictions.
    However fix this, loads of houses will get built, and the price of housing (particularly in the SE) will return to about what houses cost to build (i.e. about half current prices in the SE).
    This will leave loads of people who have bought houses in the last 10 years or so in massive -ve equity, and as a result the banking system will probably fall over really badly.

    Do you begin to see why no-one is rushing to sort this particular mess out…?

  39. Bernanke signaled a change in monetary targets for the Fed tonight:-

    An unemployment target.
    A lower AND an upper number for inlation. ( Bernanke is petrified about deflation in USA)

    BB said IF targets were being met , QE would start to taper -and end in 2014 ( ie no additions to the stock of assets then held)

    Dow was off 1% during the speech & Treasury Bond Yields rose .

  40. Wes.

    Yeah, well, there’s “rock solid” and “rock solid”…

    Actually, I was talking about the 5-day average. And to be fair, that HAS slipped outside the 25-40 range over the past 15 months, but only very briefly. The point I was making us that there is no sign whatsoever of a trend showing a decline in the Lab lead as a proportion of the Con vote.

  41. Didnt Labour spend a load of the 3G windfall money on council housing renovation? I remember reading an article about them doing it in Hull, a lot of them remained empty. Am glad everybody is in general agreement that that was a bad policy.

  42. @The Prole
    You can only go so far with removing planning restrictions, and in any case it’s not like land isn’t available in existing conurbations (there are a lot of very empty, almost derelict offices right in the centre or Reading, for instance).
    Land is in such short supply in Britain government will always have to restrict it in some way, which means government inherits a lot of responsibility the problem of lack of housing. Social house building must re start.

    Anyway, housing is in such short supply that you would have to build *millions* of houses a year to bring house prices down, not seen since post-war rebuilding. The best we can hope for is to slow the rate of increase to something like general inflation.

  43. Rich,

    The best way to discourage us young people from living apart is to let house prices rise and houses/rents become unaffordable.

    As a writer in the Sunday Times recently pointed out, the attitude of successive governments to the housing question is that, given excess demand and undersupply, what the market needs is more demand.

  44. Loserer,

    “Land is in such short supply in Britain government will always have to restrict it in some way, which means government inherits a lot of responsibility the problem of lack of housing. Social house building must re start.”

    I had no idea that social housing designers had found a way of building houses that uses no land. Why don’t they share this invention with the private sector?

  45. Really surprised about the Assange figures on first glance, as I thought the UK public would back his noble and brave actions.

    Assange showed the US up for what it is, a bully.

    I expect the reason why the poll was negative towards Assange as it was to do with perception, he’s not been in the news for a while and peoples memories are notoriously short, I suspect many had a negative perception of a man hiding out in a foreign embassy, rather than a negative perception of his fine work.

  46. No,
    I meant that the government necessarily restricts building with planning regulations, and therefore must step in to fund housing where it would now be less profitable or desirable for the private sector to do so. This is to make up for the market imbalance that planning restrictions create.

    The private sector must look for higher rates of return in the short term, for instance, than governments have to. Also, local and national governments can take advantage of economies of scale. The planning restrictions mean the market will under supply, so the government must spend money to make up for that. This is good if it reduces housing benefit spend, and all that.

    If I have made an economic faux pas here, please let me know.

  47. Land is in such short supply in Britain government will always have to restrict it in some way, which means government inherits a lot of responsibility the problem of lack of housing.

    **************

    Land is not in short supply. This is a myth. Slightly less than 10% of England (not Britain) is ‘urban’ in any way shape or form, and about 2.5% actually has buildings on it. I’m struggling to find decent figures more locally for the SE, but the odd ones I’ve found suggest only about 30% of Essex is urban for example.

    Building plots with planning (or reasonable prospects of getting planning) are in short supply – this is because planning is slow, expensive and hard to get.
    Your Reading offices are a case in point, as are loads of boarded up shops in town centers – they are probably in the wrong planning zone for conversion or replacement with domestic dwellings.

    Try a thought experiment for a moment.
    Imagine the government anounced tomorrow that the entire planning system was being abolished, and from the start of next week, anyone could build anything anywhere provided it complied with building regs.

    Currently, houses in the SE cost about twice their build costs to buy, and plots of agricultural land(i.e. without planning) big enough to fit several semis and their gardens change hands for no more than £5 a house plot. This means that any Tom, Dick or Harry who can build a house can make a killing – I’d expect a typical small house builder to work on about a 10% margin, rather than a 100% margin. The price of agricultural land isn’t going to rise all that much, even in the SE – as noted earlier, despite myths to the contrary, even if we doubled the amount of land we built on, there would still be loads to go round.

    Thus, as every man and his dog in the SE jumped on the housing bandwagon, we would see a building boom like never before – until equilibrium eventually appeared with houses changing hands for about what they cost to build + the value of the land they are sat on (i.e. much like they do now, but without the additional “value” the planning permission gives the land).

    Clearly, this would be great news for those wanting to buy houses. It would be rather less great news for anyone who already owned a house, as it’s notional value would drop back to about what it would cost to build. Hence lots of -ve equity, and a banking crises that would make the one we’ve just had look like a teddybear’s picnic.

    This stuff is all fairly economics 101 – and anyone anywhere near in charge of the planning system is well aware of it – which is why it’s unlikely the planning system will be scaled back very much any time soon.

    All of this mess is of course the fault of the idiots who originally created the planning system, as they allowed us to get into this mess. (Thereby greatly enriching the baby-boomers, who have mostly seen massive house value rises after they had bought theirs, while painting the next generation into a nasty corner where the houses cost massively more than they need to, but there is no easy way to correct the market without crashing the UK’s banking sector.

    IMHO the best solution would be to specifically target the number of planning applications approved to try and get a controlled reduction in house prices (say -1% pa cash terms, i.e. about -3-5% real terms) – this will gradually bring house prices back to affordablity without much risk of actual -ve equity for existing owners. The two downsides are that it would probably take 20 years of such a policy to get house prices back down to a sensible level, and that it would be devlishly difficult to achieve in practice; the window with enough planning applications being approved to get prices to budge down without having them crashing down is probably both quite small and very hard to model accurately.

  48. @ The Prole

    It would be rather less great news for anyone who already owned a house, as it’s notional value would drop back to about what it would cost to build.
    ————–
    The build (restoration) cost of my house is estimated to be a lot more than its current value, if insurance surveyors are to be believed!

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