At next week’s Chartered Institute of Housing conference in Harrogate, the Institute for Public Policy Research will be holding a fringe event on ‘A progressive vision for housing’. In it, we will make the arguments we’ll be publishing in a new paper on the politics - as opposed to the policy - of housing.
We do need clever technical fixes to wicked policy problems, but that will not be enough if we are to overcome the housing crisis this country faces. To do that, we need a story to tell that will move people and make them care about housing as a first-order priority now.
It must speak to the whole population, not just a segment of it.
It has to respond to people’s genuine concerns and speak to their hopes and needs when they are worrying about where their children are going to be able to live.
It must acknowledge our predicament: not enough houses where there are jobs, homeownership that is unaffordable without access to the bank of mum and dad, increasingly residualised social housing and a private rented sector that is unprofessional and insecure.
It must conjure an image of housing that is less unequal, both between households and between generations.
It has to draw the crucial links between housing and the economy, work, pensions, welfare, education and health. It must be a narrative that gets housing out of the business section and onto the political pages of the press.
Above all, it needs to make the case that the primary purpose of housing policy is to provide secure, decent, affordable homes for the whole population. And then, yes, we’ll need the policy to back it up.
Andy Hull is a senior research fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research