Housing in Britain: Rooms for improvement
How to solve Britain's housing mess?
On every side, Britain's politicians are grappling with problems of immense scale and nightmarish complexity.
How to manage the departure from the European Union?
How to help a crumbling health service cope with an ageing, weakening population?
How to deal with persistent regional deprivation?
Yet one national scourge that holds back the economy and poisons politics is readily solvable—politicians just need to be brave enough to act.
That scourge is the cost of housing.
The ratio of median house prices to earnings in England hit 7.7 in 2016, its highest recorded level.
In the past four decades house prices have grown by more in Britain than in any other G7 country.
Home ownership has been falling for more than a decade, after rising for most of the past century.
In London housing is outlandishly dear: before the Brexit vote sent the pound tumbling, it was the priciest city in the world for renters.
The cost of housing has knock-on effects across the economy.
As people are forced out to the suburbs, cities become less dynamic.
Workers waste time on marathon, energy-sapping commutes.
People from the regions cannot afford to move to cities where they might find work.
Businesses cannot clear land to build.
It is perhaps no coincidence that Britain's growing housing mess has coincided with stagnant productivity.
All this has fostered a growing sense of inequity.
Britons over the age of 65, a fifth of the population, own over 40% of the housing wealth held by owner-occupiers.
Youngsters with rich parents can buy their first house thanks to the “Bank of Mum and Dad”.
Everyone else must resign themselves to renting small properties for life, or to continuing to pay off their mortgage long after retirement.