Why not just build more houses?

We keep hearing that we must build more houses, on brownfield sites, on the green belt, on the village cricket pitch, to accommodate the growing demand for housing.

This sounds logical, and accords with the most basic of economic laws – that of supply and demand. But we seem to have overlooked the obvious fact, all the more easily seen when the law is written down, that there are two sides to the argument: supply and demand.

The answer always seems to be to build more houses. It would be nice, for a change, if some politician, economist, commentator or journalist would explore the demand side a little more. The reason supply is failing to meet demand is not because supply is going down – indeed, it is going up; they both are. We need more houses because demand is outpacing supply – it is going up and up and up.

Why does no one suggest we make some effort to control demand, thus easing pressure on supply? The reason could, I suppose, be that the law of supply and demand has been proven false; it could be that, but I doubt it. Is there another reason to explain people’s reticence? Well, yes there is, but it’s a bit of a touchy subject, which explains why we are so reluctant to suggest an alternative policy to concreting over this country’s green spaces.

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