Another Monday, another dubiously sourced column in the Maily Telegraph from London’s occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, no doubt cobbled together while he was awaiting luncheon at the house of this weekend’s unfortunate host. Bozza’s subject this week is “It’s mad to blame our housing crisis on 'blooming foreigners’”, demonstrating that he did not take his first degree in economics.
He starts well enough, telling that “The answer to house-price inflation is to build more homes – as we can, on London’s 33 brownfield opportunity areas. We can build hundreds of thousands of homes for rent, for affordable rent, for market sale and for part-buy-part-rent”. Then he goes wrong: “But we won’t get any of these schemes going if we are so demented as to tell foreign investors to bog off”.
The foreign investors are paying for affordable new houses? “It is precisely this overseas demand that is critical to the economics of many of the developments. In case you hadn’t noticed, our UK banks’ balances were shot to pieces in 2008, and we have a huge national deficit. We need to keep that investment flowing”. What makes Bozza think they put money into our banks?
Foreign house buyers don’t have to favour the UK banking system with 5p if they are not so inclined. There is a difference, which Bozza seems not to have noticed, between those who buy up property in and around the capital, and those who are actually investing in construction, or indeed any other industry. And then he gets on to those who buy second homes outside London.
“Those who argue against such funding [foreign investment] ... are as wrong as those who protest against people buying second homes in the countryside ... it is those townie second homes that bring cash and jobs to the rural economy”. Like what? For when the discerning second home owner decides to get a chap in to mow the lawn or fix the roof (also available to non-second home owners)?
Bozza then makes the discovery that not everyone working on building sites in London and elsewhere is a local: “And we will only find it harder to build the homes we need if we are so foolish as to turn against legal foreign workers. Go to any London building site and listen to the languages being spoken”. Bit of a stretch to think that he’s ever gone near those doing manual work, though.
And Bozza has been on about his coming revolution bringing hundreds of thousands of new homes since he arrived in City Hall. He is still banging on about it. But results have been poor, and the idea that foreign house buyers are somehow going to pour their well-protected dosh into our banks is just fanciful. He needs to cut out the bluster, stop making excuses and actually do something.
But it’s much easier to wheedle £250k a year from the Tel. No change there, then.