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For anyone who may be interested, I thought I'd post a copy of a letter I recently sent to my MP - Roger Berry of Kingswood, Bristol - relating my exasperation at the situation I currently find myself in.

Now, I know very well that the tide has seemingly changed now anyway but the PM's Party Line utterly infuriates me so I felt compelled to express my ire and seek some justification.

Unfortunately, I had to keep it concise as I fully appreciate that my MP has limited time to deal with requests like mine so a long-winded diatribe was never likely to bear fruit.

The letter reads as follows:

Dear Roger Berry,

Please can you explain to me why the leader of your party believes that it is in any way desirable that the over-inflated UK housing market is sustained at current levels, creating a 'have and have not' culture. Only today he was quoted by the BBC as saying "I'm getting on with the job and I think it's important that in difficult economic circumstances we take the right decisions for the future to get fuel prices down, to get food prices down, to make sure we get the housing market moving...".

I'm sure I don't need to point out to you that house prices today are orders of magnitude more expensive than they were a decade ago and yet nothing has been done to the housing stock of this country to add inherent value to it during that time (unless you class a bit of magnolia paint and some Ikea laminate flooring as somehow adding value).

The perceived wealth that this country has experienced during the last 10 years is largely the result of poorly regulated credit expansion but that expansion had to run out eventually and now the banks are cashing in their chips. Frankly, I find it utterly irresponsible for your leader to seek to perpetuate this unsustainable expansion of credit and, in doing so, prop up the unjustiafiably high house prices that we now see.

For me to buy a humble 3-bed semi for my young family in Emerson's Green today, I would have to have a deposit of ~£20k plus stamp duty and other associated costs taking me close to £30k. I would then need to saddle myself with a loan equal to 5 times my annual salary. I simply couldn't afford the repayments on such a mortgage - and that is at today's interest rates, let alone what they will be in a year's time when Mervyn & Co increase them to try to check the rapidly climbing inflation.

The bottom line here is that our economy is, sooner or later, going to have to take a very big hit in order to get the basic necessities back to the levels where young hard-working people can afford them once more. For your leader to seek to postpone that is only to prolong the inevitable agony that those who have over-borrowed (owing to an irresponsible lack of regulation on behalf of the Government) are inevitably going to experience. None of my peer group have a realistic prospect of owning their own home in the near future and yet all of our parents are wallowing in relative wealth - enjoying holidays overseas, buying flash plasma TVs and generally living the high life thanks to the fact that their houses have been earning money faster than I can earn it in a relatively well paid job.

The single specific question that I would like you to answer in the context of the above is this: When talking about our economy, why does your leader take it as read that a buoyant housing market is an inherently desirable thing for the people of this country? I put it to you that the absolute reverse is true and a return to long-term levels where average property prices are roughly equivalent to 3-4 times average salary is much more desirable for the people and long term future of this country.

Yours sincerely,

Armitage Shanks

With hindsight, the one regret I have is not analysing GB's quote in more depth. Once again, it reads as follows:

"I'm getting on with the job and I think it's important that in difficult economic circumstances we take the right decisions for the future to get fuel prices down, to get food prices down, to make sure we get the housing market moving..."

Taking the quote a point at a time:

"to get fuel prices down" is GB saying that fuel is becoming prohibitively expensive for the average Joe and he wants to find ways to bring the price back down to affordable levels.

"to get food prices down" is GB saying, likewise, that food is becoming prohibitively expensive for the average Joe and he wants to find ways to bring the prices back down to affordable levels.

"to make sure we get the housing market moving..." is GB saying that he couldn't give 2 hoots that houses are more unaffordable than they have ever been for the average Joe and he wants to find ways to ensure that things stay that way.

Now, of the 3 subjects he tackles, can anyone spot the odd one out?

The 3 basic necessities of human life are food, heat and shelter and yet, while GB seemingly wants to ensure the food and heat remain something that we all have ready access to, his approach to shelter is not to ensure that it remains affordable for all, rather it is to use the warped trading of it to prop up the economy for as long as it can be sustained.

Any guesses how my response might read? I'll hazard that it might touch on nonsense shared-equity schemes which do nothing to address the underlying inflated price but, rather, seek to mask it by allowing you to own a part of what you would have been able to afford outright a decade ago.

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Good letter.

The type of reply you will get depends on whether the MP is an ambitious government lick-spittle or he/she is an unambitious independent who wishes to represent his constituents first and foremost. The former is very common (like my MP Bob Ainsworth) and you will get a standard reply stating that the government is great and you are wrong. The latter, unfortunately, is as rare as rocking horse poo poo (representative democracy - don't make me laugh! :angry: )!

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I don't expect you to get a meaningful response.

Remember: this is not democracy; this is the free market, (well... not so free but it is a kind of a market).

I once sent a similar letter to the Tory party (when they were miles behind) expecting that they would try and absorb me into their fray. But no, i just got an off-topic templated reply.

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E-mailed my MP yesterday asking him to join me in welcoming the return to sensible lending and house prices :rolleyes:

The last time I wrote was during the Northern Rock bailout farce when it was forwarded to the Treasury and given the 'financial stability blah blah blah' treatment.

Hopefully with the Labour party in disarray they may start to listen in the hope of being seen to be in touch and restoring their popularity. Not holding my breath though.

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Lose the bit about parents enjoying the high life, it smells a bit of envy. It's only true if they have MEWed, and most of them haven't. Lay the stress differently.

"In supporting high house prices, the government continues to encourage the older generation to withdraw equity from their houses to spend on unnecessary luxuries, most of which are sourced abroad. Surely, this leads to a loss of capital to the country?"

Summat like that.

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Written to my m.p. twice neither time did I even get a reply, so i phoned and spoke to his secratary we ended up having a big row and i did enjoy giving her some verbal . Bit naughty really but got things of my chest.

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That is a good letter and reflects the anger I have with this stupid PM. He wouldn't have said that about returning to Dot Com bubble. When they won the last election with a reduced majority, they promised to listen to the people which they didn't. They seem to think the electorate want them to concentrate on the environment, when in fact they don't give a toss, they just want them stop interfering with their lives. They used to say of Barbara Castle that she was going to Bankok for her holidays

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'To make sure we get the housing market moving'

Anybody else notice the weaselly ambiguity and general emptiness of this line?

Covering his back by saying nothing of consequence, as usual.

The only thing 'moving' that Brown will see is his own furniture being carted out of 10 Downing Street.

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Yes, "to make sure we get the housing market moving", is a little vague.

I expect the reply from the MP will be along the lines of "The goverment are trying to put measures into place to simply encourage house sales to increase. This doesn`t mean that we will be encouraging house price increases".

We all know, of course, that there`s nothing more the government would like to see than a resumption of house price increases, it wins them votes, and helps their BTL portfolios.

Anyway, I think that`s a very good letter Armitage, worthy of a decent response, which sadly, I doubt you`ll get.

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Update:

Just as my better half was about to retire for the night she piped up "Oooh. I forgot to mention that there's a letter over there addressed to you and it says House of Commons on the front."

I neglected to point out in my original post that my correspondence was sent using www.writetothem.com (which I can heartily recommend off the back of this) late on Saturday 26th July. So, I have to concede that I'm pretty impressed to have received a response (albeit a simple acknowledgement at this stage) in the post already.

It reads as follows:

Dear Armitage Shanks

Thank you for your email of 26 July concerning the UK housing market.

I have contacted Gordon Brown about this matter on your behalf. As soon as I receive a reply I will write to you again.

In the meantime please do not hesitate to contact me about this, or indeed, any other matter.

With all good wishes.

Yours sincerely

Roger Berry

MP for Kingswood

I'll keep you all posted. In the meantime, I hope a few other people reading this might feel compelled to take similar action using www.writetothem.com - it's free and the more we make our voices heard the harder it makes it for the Government to ignore us.

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I used write to them and 3 weeks later I got a letter back from my MP. It seemed to be from a template and did not tackle meaningfully any of the points I raised in my initial correspondence. I have been thinking about sending a reply, but not got round to it yet.

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I'll keep you all posted. In the meantime, I hope a few other people reading this might feel compelled to take similar action using www.writetothem.com - it's free and the more we make our voices heard the harder it makes it for the Government to ignore us.

Your proposal is an excellent one. I suspect many MPs hear much more from whinging baby boomers who cannot sell their house to fund their retirement.

Following your suggestion, I have sent a variant to my local LibDem MP, Mark Hunter through the writetothem website. I have made it more of an enquiry into his personal views on the point:

Friday 1 August 2008

Dear Mark Hunter,

I am interested to know your perspective on the credit crunch and house prices, particularly given Vince Cable seems to be one of the few leading politicians who is honest on this matter.

Do you agree that falling house prices are a good or bad thing?

On one view, the bubble in house prices we have seen puts people out of the market and forces those who do buy to get into huge income multiples of debt. A sharp lowering of house prices by reason of restricted credit will lead to responsible lending which does not allow people to borrow too much or without a decent deposit and yet at the same time make many houses affordable for ordinary people.

On the other, many people who have fortuitously bought at the right time (ie years ago) have enjoyed a windfall in terms of the unearned profit they make from selling to those who for one reason or another buy later the line. The people who bought early are naturally unhappy at the idea that they may not make as much money as they thought.

There is of course a human cost for those who took advantage of cheap credit and stretched themselves in the last few years of the boom.

Where do you stand? No fudging please. I am not intending to put this in the local freebe sheets or make party political points over your reply.

Yours sincerely,

(heatonfan's real name)

It should be apparent to him where I stand, but I hope it is written in a sensible enough fashion that he feels able to give a straight reply.

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Update:

I received another letter from my MP, Roger Berry, this morning which reads as follows:

Dear Armitage Shanks

Further to my letter of 30 July, I attach a copy of the initial reply I have received from the Prime Minister's Office following my representations on your behalf.

As soon as I hear from the Department for Communities and Local Government I will contact you again. In the meantime please feel free to contact me about this, or indeed any other, matter.

With all good wishes.

Yours sincerely

Roger Berry

MP for Kingswood

The attached reply from the Prime Minister's Office reads as follows:

Dear Dr Berry

I am writing on behalf of the Prime Minister to thank you for your letter of 30 July with which you enclosed correspondence from Mr Armitage Shanks.

The Prime Minister has asked me to arrange for a Minister in the Department for Communities and Local Government to reply to you direct.

Yours sincerely.

So, it seems my hopes of getting the man at the top to justify his own words have been dashed but I'm still looking forward to hearing what they have to say. In some ways I suppose it is a good thing that it has been delegated in this way as it means there is more chance of a personalised, rather than a template, reply.

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My effort last week to Anne Snelgrove, MP for Swindon South.No reply as yet...

Hello,

I am one of your constituents, living in Savernake Street SN1 3LZ. I was just reading your response to a question about affordable housing on your website, and it struck me that there may be a simpler solution to high house prices than the initiatives you mention coming from the housing minister.

Housing is definitely unaffordable to the likes of me and many others, and indeed the graph I attach bears that out (see jpeg attachment, it is a bit out of date, apologies). The long-term trend-line seems to be a little under 3 times the average salary, some way off the current position I'm sure you'll agree. Are their any good reasons to suppose that prices will not return to the long-term level of their own accord, and thus help to solve the problem?

I'm not sure it's desirable to try and 'stimulate' the housing market to try and sustain what look like unsustainable levels. Do you think these levels are sustainable? Perhaps changing the inflation measure from RPI to CPI(which removed the influence of housing) in 2003, allied to easy access to cheap capital has fuelled the current situation. Of course, all this largely pre-dates your parliamentary involvement, so I do not expect you to justify decisions you had no say in. I am merely interested in how you view my points. As you are well aware, Swindon is a town which is changing quickly, and I feel that issues such as these are therefore of particular interest.

Yours Sincerely,

Kimberley Clarke

house.jpg

post-15482-1218672057_thumb.jpg

Edited by cheeznbreed

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You're wasting your time.

Berry is a ****. I used to live in Krapwood so I know.

Forget about ranting to the Animal Farm Pigs - just get out. Go to Canada, Australia, France anywhere except this stinking rancid cesspit of an excuse for a country!

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That'll go straight in the crackpot file unfortunately. And did you mean to leave your real name there on the bottom?

At least remove it from your quote then.

Edit: Unless i'm going insane there is a patfig (labour party, trolling) reply missing beneath mine.

Edited by maxwell

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That'll go straight in the crackpot file unfortunately. And did you mean to leave your real name there on the bottom?

I doubt that's their real name

Erm... Armitage Shanks? Kimberly Clark?

I suppose you could call that toilet humour.

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Surely we want to get the housing market moving again as rapidly as possible!

But in a downward direction. You can't have a crash if no-one if buying.

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For me to buy a humble 3-bed semi for my young family in Emerson's Green today, I would have to have a deposit of ~£20k plus stamp duty and other associated costs taking me close to £30k. I would then need to saddle myself with a loan equal to 5 times my annual salary. I simply couldn't afford the repayments on such a mortgage - and that is at today's interest rates, let alone what they will be in a year's time when Mervyn & Co increase them to try to check the rapidly climbing inflation.

Like other replies you're basing some of your 'complaint/issue' on the fact that you cannot afford to buy. Let me first say that everyone is entitled to housing. Not one person should ever find themselves on the streets. Everyone should also have quality housing, not some run down squat.

But I'll ask a question that your MP is unlikely to, so what if you cannot afford to buy a house in your area? If you can't afford to buy then don't. Rent instead. Not everyone has the money required to enter into the property market. This obsession with needing to 'own' a house is partly what got us here in the first place. My grandparents never owned a house. My parents didn't own until they moved here from Germany. The majority of the people in our Frankfurt office, (although they have the money), rent as well.

I often hear people harping on about not being able to afford to buy and using it as part of an argument as to why prices should be lower. I don't get it. If you can't afford it then don't. I can't afford a DB9. I could get a loan, saddle myself up with debt to get one but I accept that I don't earn the wage to own a £120k car. I certainly don't write letters to my MP about it.

-----

Dear MP

You really need to do something about new car prices. If I wanted to buy an Aston Martin DB9 I would have to have a deposit of ~£15k plus road tax and insurance and other associated costs taking me close to £17k. I would then need to saddle myself with a loan over a period of 5 years! That's without taking any extras into consideration. I simply couldn't afford the repayments on such a loan. It'll be even worse in 2 years when interest rates increase. What am I to do?? Please help.

------

We all want house prices to decrease but the fact that one can't currently afford to buy a house is not a very good argument.

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We all want house prices to decrease but the fact that one can't currently afford to buy a house is not a very good argument.

On the other hand thats the best argument going that prices will fall anyway.

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  • 399 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
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      • up 5%



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