Campaigning groups like Generation Rent and Shelter like to think they are simultaneously edgy and radical; likewise some think tanks believe themselves to be lofty, worldly and above the fray of day-to-day politics.
So why, when it comes to housing policy, are some campaigning groups and think tanks doing the government’s dirty work?
To illustrate my argument, I’ll point you at the figures that determine whether Britain has or has not got a housing crisis – house building.
The Centre of Policy Studies (yes, a think tank – but not one afraid to look at the fundamentals) says England is on course for its worst decade for housebuilding since World War Two. Completions between 2010 and 2019 run at an average of around 130,000 a year: this is far below the 147,000 average of the 2000s and 150,000 of the 1990s.
The figure for the current decade is only as high as it is thanks to a surge in building in the past two years – otherwise it would be even more derisory.
Here are more figures, the council house sell-offs under Right to Buy: 1.5 million homes have been sold through R2B since introduced by Margaret Thatcher 39 years ago.
While this policy helped owner-occupation rise from 55% in 1979 to 72% in 2004 (since when it has dipped) the policy has also led to a sharp decline in social housing availabil-ity.
Scotland and Wales have recently scrapped R2B, but it remains in force in England.
So we have, at a very fundamental level, two powerful factors that contribute towards a shortage of housing – insufficient house building and a sell-off of social homes.
Yet have you ever – I mean ever – seen a campaign by pressure groups such as Generation Rent and Shelter against such policies?
I suspect the individuals in these groups are as unhappy at those two policies as I am, yet they keep quiet and let them take their course.