“We don’t want people to lose out.”

Says Nick Clegg. He’s talking to people who already own property where he wants to build new garden cities. He wants to reassure them that even if new houses lose value he’s willing to compensate them by buying their houses or offsetting council tax.

Let’s be clear – solving the housing crisis requires people’s homes to lose value. The ridiculous price of housing doesn’t come from their intrinsic value, but from the scarcity of housing. People’s whose wealth is in their house are not ‘asset-rich’ but ‘crisis-rich’, if the crisis goes away, so will some of that wealth.

Taking Clegg to extremes means compensation should be paid to people for each house build – as every new build represents a ‘theft’ from people whose house would have been even more valuable if that house was never build.

But on the other side, *not* building houses also represents a theft – over the long term renting is far more expensive than home-ownership. Halifax estimated the additional cost of renting over home-ownership to be £900 a year. This money isn’t lost to the air – it’s a transfer of wealth from tenants to landlords. This doesn’t happen because landlords are an essential and necessary cost, but because housing is.

People are already losing out. Creating more (but less absurdly valued) housing creates less losers, not more.

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