THE BLOG
22/07/2013 06:22 BST | Updated 18/09/2013 06:12 BST

If We Want to House Our Future, We Need to Start Building Now

As you read this, scores of journalists and photographers camped outside St Mary's Hospital in London are prepared to record the birth of a baby for whose arrival the world has been anxiously and obsessively waiting.

This child will be born into a world of privilege, receiving the best education possible, their ancestry opening doors and granting opportunities available only to a few.

Whether such a prosperous life is worth the trade-off (with each decision, good or bad, being scrutinised in the glare of the public eye) is up for debate. But what is clear is that when Baby Wales reaches adulthood, he or she will never have to worry about being able to afford a roof over their head.

For hundreds of thousands of other babies born in the UK this year, such housing options will be fantasy. But the least they will expect when finding a job after school or university is that their wages pay for a roof over their head, with enough left over to live a decent life, cover their bills and set aside towards their pension.

Many Eighties baby-boomers- now in their late-twenties and early thirties - will tell them, sadly, to stop dreaming.

They worked and studied hard, made the right decisions, paid their taxes. They believed that they would be able to afford their homes with relative ease.

Today, faced with high rents and unreachable house prices, with millions stuck living with parents and countless others stopped from starting families, they feel betrayed.

But as our Housing Britain's Future report today shows, about seven years from now we face a far greater challenge.

The children from an even bigger baby-boom, those born in the first decade of the Millennium - 6.9 million babies - will begin reaching adulthood. In 2020 they will be looking for work, seeking independence and hoping to live in their own homes.

But we're not building enough homes right now to even meet demand, let alone address the backlog. So with only 1.6 million homes completed over the same period, their ambitions will put a huge strain on the UK's already broken housing market.

The Government will reply that it is doing something. And it's right - to an extent. Help to Buy is giving prospective homeowners a chance to borrow more money in order to buy a home.

But unless this is matched by a serious commitment to boosting the supply of affordable homes, we risk creating another bubble where house prices are pushed further out of reach.

You can see the proof of this already. News of rising house prices appear in the papers nearly every other day. Last week it was announced that annual house prices rose in all regions for the first time since 2008. But this is no cause for back-slapping.

Ministers will then point out that in the recent Spending Review the Treasury put in £3.3bn over three years towards building more affordable homes. But in reality this is a further disappointing cut in subsidy and won't deliver the ambitious house building programme we need to give hope to millions of young people around the country.

It's simply not good enough. We're in danger of saddling thousands of people with more debt to prop up a dysfunctional, unsustainable housing market that may burst - like the Fannie Mae crash that crippled the US.

The problem is that our housing policy is short-sighted, with ministers unable (or unwilling) to look far enough into the future.

And who can blame them? After 2015, the current crop of decision-makers might not even be in power. We'll cross that bridge if we come to it, they think. Otherwise, let housing be the next government's problem.

So the spiral of unaccountability and despair continues. No lessons learnt, another chance blown. Another jilted generation dismayed that, despite warning sign after warning sign, nowhere near enough is being done to safeguard their future

But the public can make a stand. You can help break this cycle.

To solve this housing crisis, we need to build more of the right homes, at the right prices, in the right places. Not many people realise, but the decisions about housing are being made locally, by local councillors.

But they won't act unless people reach out and tell them they want more homes in their community.

A simple email is all it takes. A few will be enough to ensure that the next planning application for affordable homes that lands on your councillor's desk is considered more thoughtfully.

If not for yourselves, do it for your younger brothers, sisters or cousins. Do it for your children and your grandchildren. Do it for the kids in your local primary school, many of whom will grow up and be forced to move away because they won't be able to afford to live locally.

Do it and maybe someday you can say that you were one of many who put their foot down, said enough was enough, took matters into their own hands. You helped save your village from becoming a ghost town. Because of you, your daughter and her husband could finally afford a home where they could raise a child.

Join our campaign and say yes to more homes.