The Crisis We Can't Discuss
A counter-cultural view of Britain's housing crisis
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Sometimes, what matters in politics is how one issue merges with another to produce an explosive reaction.
Think about the last decade.
In the 2010s, it was the fusion of immigration with the European Union which collided to pave the way for Nigel Farage, Brexit, and then Boris Johnson, dramatically expanding the amount of space for these populist revolts.
Now look at the years ahead.
If I’m right, based on what you’re about to read, then the 2020s and the 2030s will likely see immigration become linked with a very different issue in a way that will produce a similarly explosive result.
And what is that issue? It’s housing.
As I said in a television debate this week, which has since gone viral, the blunt reality is that millions of ordinary people up and down Britain are utterly fed-up with how immigration is driving up house prices, rents and flooding social housing.
This is best symbolised, as I said during the debate, by the fact that about half of all social housing in London, the country’s capital city, now goes to households that are headed by somebody who was not even born in Britain.
Cue the outburst of outrage among professional elites on social media whose luxury beliefs lead them to simultaneously demand more immigration while knowing full well they are the least likely to feel its effects on the housing market.
Was I wrong to say this? Not at all.
The fact that mass immigration is worsening our housing crisis should not be a controversial point. In fact, it’s common sense. And anybody who has actually bothered to look at the evidence knows this full well.
Let me share a few remarkable statistics.
But that target is based on the assumption that Britain is running a net migration rate of around 170,000 each year —something it’s not done for more than a decade.
In reality, as we saw last week, Britain has now been running record net migration rates of 745,000 in 2022, and 672,000 in 2023.
What does this mean for housing?
It means —as the Centre for Policy Studies points out— that Britain actually needs to build at least 515,000 new homes each year —more than half of which are needed just to keep up with the extra demand because of immigration.
In England, to put this in context, it means that last year we only built around one-third of the homes that we now need to build because of immigration.
We should be able to talk about this openly. We should be able to talk about how immigration is fuelling the housing crisis, driving up house prices and making many homes unaffordable for British families and British workers.
Don’t believe me? Here’s what researchers at the University of Oxford recently said:
“ … there is some evidence that migration is likely to have increased house prices in the UK. For example, the Migration Advisory Committee (2018) found that a 1-percentage point increase in the UK’s population due to migration increased house prices by 1% … Their finding was broadly consistent with other modelling by the former MHCLG (2018) and the Office for Budget Responsibility (Auterson, 2014).”
In fact, there’s more evidence than people like to think.