I’m absolutely saying we need to build - supply is the key. I don’t think anyone doubts that. The details of building are pretty complex though. Just saying the “state should build houses” is sloganeering of the highest order
The state doesn’t have the ability/resources to build. At a simple level it doesn’t have builders on its staff. Therefore it has to contract the dreaded private sector to do it. The construction sector in the private sector is probably already at capacity - it has limited ability to produce extra output, the main effect of demanding more is that construction costs increase.
In addition, with planning, public tendering rules and the actual construction - there is a significant lag between deciding to build a house in a location and final house. I’d imagine most of the houses being completed this year were envisaged in 2015/2016.
So straight away you have the issue of a time lag, absolute requirement to use the private sector and and construction capacity.
An alternative way of increasing the supply is from the private sector. Developers have a big issue accessing funding for development with the banks highly risk averse after the last crash. In addition, the central bank rules which are correctly in place to protect us from ourselves, limit the amount of borrowing that can be provided further minimising the amount of capital that can be put towards development. There is opportunity in non-residential with better finance and returns - what a surprise that many developers have focused efforts there. The government can try and incentivise etc but it still remains a catch-22 situation, particularly when prices are at or near construction costs. Don’t forget the construction costs are inflating rapidly because of all the demand on the sector. Also the lag factor applies here too.
So, it’s a complete shitshow to build houses in any meaningful quantity quickly. On top of the things I mentioned you have NIMBYism, population growth, urban concentration etc etc
These issues would apply to all political parties and I’ve yet to hear a credible plan from the opposition. It’s easy to criticise - not so easy to solve. If the gov had started building houses in 2011 and increased taxes or reduced services to do it they would have been hounded by the opposition. I don’t recall a post on here or many national commentators calling for house-building. Yet thats the root of the problem.
To summarise, yes we need houses, no its not simple, any one suggesting a simple solution to a multi-factorial complex problem is either a fool or a knave and I think this is going to continue for several years to come.