A DUMMIES guide to the cost-of-living crisis

How serious is the present debate on the squeeze on middle-class living standards?

VERY. It will probably cost the Conservatives any unlikely, lingering hope of winning the 2015 General Election.

An authoritative report from Dr. Eoin Clarke PhD recently analysed price rises since the Coalition Government took office in May 2010, as follows:

Stamps     +56%

Electricity   +39%

Gas     +29%

Private rents   +£1,100pa

Food    +19%  (vegetables +25%, potatoes +20%, fish +26%, fruit +49%)

Water charges    +20%

Bus fares   +22%

Rail fares    +27%

During this period take-home pay has fallen by an average of 4% due to higher taxation.

There is a solution. We all need a home. The single biggest cost to any individual is rent whether it is just that or by way of a mortgage.

House prices are now five or six times average earnings. This is why the Governor of the Bank of England is absolutely petrified of putting up interest rates. Any further increase in housing rents could savage the fragile economic recovery.

The solution is straightforward. Reverse the artificial shortage of building plots in England and bring down the cost. 12% of our land is National Parks which are sacrosanct. 12% is green belt. Vast amounts are farms where we are subsidising farmers to produce crops. Why not let farming land become housing stock. Perhaps Councils should receive subsidised state funding for building homes to rent. Take a courageous look at the planning laws.

It’s quite viable and can change the outlook for the UK.

The only problem is it will take political courage and that, unlike potential building land, is in short supply.

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