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HOUSING STUDIES ASSOCIATION – 2014 CONFERENCE. Separating the demands of housing suppliers from the houses in demand : the changing moral values embedded in UK housing transactions. Dr Martin Field Institute for Urban Affairs, University of Northampton m

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Separating the demands of housing suppliers from the houses in demand : the changing moral values embedded in UK housing transactions

Dr Martin Field

Institute for Urban Affairs,

University of Northampton

submitted abstract
Submitted abstract
  • This papers examines what moral frameworks are embedded within the ways in which modern UK housing provisions are being structured, and considers what different conclusions flow from engaging with a classic utilitarian perspective as compared to a contemporary neo-liberal one.
  • Particular attention is given to a critical examination of the justifications made for the impact that modern development economics and legislative frameworks are having on affordability, security and tenure relationships.
  • The paper concludes with some proposals for benchmarking the kinds of moral values to help highlight distinctions between housing market ‘failure’ and ‘crisis’, and at how these might impact upon debate about the roles of key housing supply stakeholders.

The musings of a ‘housing theorist’ about UK housing supply values and possiblemoralities.....

  • Some propositions
  • ‘Value’ frameworks
  • Application to ‘newbuild ‘/ ‘viability’ / ‘PRS’
  • Benchmarking
  • Tentative summation
failure and crisis in the uk market
‘Failure’ and ‘crisis’ in the UK market____________________________
  • Commentaries on market ‘failure’ substantially replaced by discourse on market ‘crisis’*
  • ‘Failure’ is uncomfortably close to notions of ‘blame’, and requires clear-sighted and honest appraisal ......
  • Deliberate sensitivity and readiness for helping major UK housing suppliers – ‘too big to fail’
  • Notion of ‘crisis’ has the ring of urgency that transcends the inspection of underlying causations
  • Responding to ‘crisis’ has a very pragmatic principle : changing ‘undersupply’ to greater supply ..... But of what?

[* NB : see also NHF presentation, HSA 2014 conference plenary ]

proposition one
Proposition One_______________________________

1a : ‘Morality’ represents social values created solely by each society to suit particular circumstances

1b : ‘Morality’ is at root based upon intrinsic ‘cosmic existence’ that transcends human settings

1c : ‘Morality’ is a mixture of how socially constructed values respond to matters intrinsic to ‘cosmic existence’

proposition two
Proposition Two_______________________________

2a : The operations of ‘markets’ have nothing to do

with ‘morality’

2b : The operations of ‘markets’ is based solely on

dynamics of ‘supply and demand’

2c : The operations of ‘markets’ change with the

prevailing values of the surrounding society

proposition three
Proposition Three_______________________________

3a : The UK ‘housing market’ is a clear example of

an ‘open market’

3b : The UK ‘housing market’ operates in ways

significantly different from any classical ‘open market’

3c : The UK ‘housing market’ is not really an ‘open’

market, but more a kind of ‘free-for-all’

v alues behind social betterment
Values behind ‘social betterment’_____________________________

(4i) Religious / Theistic : an imperative to treat [house?]

others as one would wish to be treated

(4ii) Humanistic / Utilitarian : securing the greatest good

[best housing] for the greatest number & the least harm

(4iii) Neo-liberal / Economic Rationalism : unrestricted

wealth creation and accumulation [through housing]

characteristics of new build supply
Characteristics of new-build supply:____________________________

Largely provided by bodies ‘geared to make money’

Bodies lack competition, but support monopolies

Outputs assessed as expensive, small, eco-limited

Completions limited in their pace of delivery

questions about newbuild
Questions about newbuild...._______________________________

Would (4i) and (4ii) create more inexpensive property, as well as higher all-round quality?

Can (4iii) best explain why rates of supply may be lower than what could be built?

characteristics of new build viability
Characteristics of new-build ‘viability’: ______________________________

NPPF & Harman have maximised the interests of ‘land-owner’ and property developer’

Challenges to Local Plans are increasing speculation and local greenfield approvals in non-residential areas

Renegotiated developments are reducing contributions to local infrastructure and expectations of new ‘affordable housing’

questions about viability
Questions about viability.... _______________________________

Could (4i) and (4ii) support this thrust of NPPF, or the Harman position?

Does (4iii) prioritise wealth creation for ‘land-owner’ and property developer’ above others?

An appeal to the importance of a ‘national economic imperative’ would seem to still rest on (4iii) ........

the growth of the prs
The growth of the PRS _______________________________

Outstripping all other forms of rental provision

Constraining opportunities for owner-occupation

Predominant criticism - expensive and insecure

Limited in type, size and facility

Increasingly provided for ‘investment’ returns

questions about the prs
Questions about the PRS ....... _______________________________

Would (4i) and (4ii) support investment ‘portfolios’ if costs and insecurity rise for renting households?

Does (4iii) best explain why investors’ interests are being supported above would-be owner-occupiers?

undersupply in newbuild prs
‘Undersupply’ in newbuild / PRS_______________________________

Current UK newbuild and PRS supplies best interpreted as:

  • governed by dynamics of ‘supply and demand’

- but primarily the demands of suppliers & investors

  • able to benefit from frameworks significantly different

from classical ‘open markets’ – central policy constructs

  • shaped by values that are a response to an perceived

circumstance – the economic & supply ‘crisis’

  • enables wealth accumulation for the few -

rather than good housing for the many

can circumstances be changed
Can circumstances be changed?_____________________________
  • a) Newbuild and PRS supplies informed by (4iii) values are likely to increase economic and social instability and greater stress at household level.
  • b) ‘Moral-type’ values, their impact, and their outcomes for the UK housing market, need a discourse to find a set of values that will challenge the notion that markets bias cannot be addressed ......
  • c)There is a role for benchmarks based on (4i) or (4ii) or suitable alternatives to replace (4ii), to overcome the mismatch between the terms of current housing supply and wider household needs.
  • d) Most likely impact on current ‘crises’ is from central policy – see impact of other intervention into newbuild and PRS supplies.
a benchmark un declaration of hr
A benchmark..... UN Declaration of HR_______________________________

“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the well-being of himself and his family”

“Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others...”

“No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence”

`“All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law”

concluding remarks
Concluding remarks_______________________________

“People who are not religious have tended to extend their scepticism about religion to ethics as well.... [and] they have yielded the field of ethics to the religious right” [Singer, 1993]

“The dominant political and economic model of today allows, indeed encourages, citizens to make the pursuit of their own interests (understood largely in terms of material wealth) the chief goal of their lives....”[Singer]

Each ethos will be understood by the principles it values....

postscript to hsa conference
Postscript to HSA conference :_______________________________

The presentation generated discussion regarding both the extent that ‘Neo-liberalism’ may be described as a variant of a ‘utilitarian’ moral ethic, given its plausible focus upon raising social standards through the positive effect of ‘the market’, and the extent to which utilitarian positions do or do not meet the needs of minority interests..... What was not said in reply to such points was to underline the concern about the ‘Neo-liberal’ focus on wealth generation and its acceptance of current wealth inequality that obstructs a proper planning of housing provision to shape what could otherwise be made available for majority and minority interests alike – the focus on ‘wealth’ is a chosen value, not an obligatory one ........[MF]