‘Baby boomers’ who have paid off their own mortgages should not be allowed to get in the way of the construction of homes for a younger generation “crying out for help with housing”, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has said.
In a speech in Bristol, Javid admitted the shortage of affordable property risks creating a “rootless generation” who drift from one short-term rental to another and never put down roots in a community.
He went on to reject the resistance to new development which came mostly from “baby boomers who have long since paid off their own mortgage” who claim that housing problems were caused by an “over-entitled” Millennial generation spending their cash on “nights out and smashed avocados” rather than saving for a home.
In the speech Javid defended under-30s struggling to get on the property ladder:
“What we need now is a giant leap. You wouldn’t know it if you listened to some people.
“Even today, I still hear from those who say that there isn’t a problem with housing in this country. That we don’t need to build more.
“That affordability is only a problem for Millennials that spend too much on nights out and smashed avocados. It’s nonsense.”
Referring to the typical deposit needed to buy a home in London, he said: “Last year, the average first-time buyer in London needed a deposit – a deposit – of more than £90,000. £90,000! That’s a lot of avocados.”
Javid added: “They don’t want the world handed to them on a plate. They want simple fairness, moral justice, the opportunity to play by the same rules enjoyed by those who came before them.
“Without affordable, secure, safe housing we risk creating a rootless generation, drifting from one short-term tenancy to the next, never staying long enough to play a role in their community.”
The avocado has been used repeatedly to bash Millennials.
One Australian multi-millionaire suggested first-time buyers are obsessed with the green stuff. “When I was trying to buy my first home, I wasn’t buying smashed avocado for $19 and four coffees at $4 each,” said property developer Tim Gurner, whose comments went down more like a shit sandwich.
And this week, research carried out by estate agent Strutt and Parker put the bellows under the issue by suggesting young people give up six “luxuries” - such as takeaway food - to afford a deposit for a property in five years.
Plenty of people did the maths.
Politicians have been wrestling with the issue for years. A series of initiatives - such as Help to Buy, which allows first-time buyers to provide just a 5% deposit, and a temporary stamp duty ‘holiday’ - have done little to close the affordability gap and arguably helped push prices up further.
And while 217,350 homes were built in England in 2016/17, a surge of 27,700 on the previous year, housing charity Shelter thinks this remains “woefully short” and that not even a fifth of the new properties are affordable.
For Labour, shadow housing secretary John Healey said: “These figures confirm that new house-building still hasn’t returned to the level it was before the global financial crisis, a decade on. Any increase in new housing is welcome, but in any other area of public policy this record of failure would be cause for resignation, not celebration.”