Press Release: Nanny has gone mad

For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Communications Manager Kate Andrews: kate@adamsmith.org / 07584 778207. Commenting on Andy Burnham's upcoming speech on Labour's new approach to public health, Communications Manager at the Adam Smith Institute, Kate Andrews, said:

Labour's proposed restrictions on alcohol, sugar and tobacco are deeply illiberal and may even be counterproductive. Labour is not even in government and already it is drunk on power.

Meddling in people's lifestyle choices can backfire: in Australia, the only country to have tried plain cigarette packaging, household expenditure on tobacco has actually increased, and there is mounting evidence that smokers have turned to even more harmful black market products.

Targeting "low-cost alcohol" hits the poor much harder than the rich, and has virtually no effect on problem drinkers, who are the least sensitive to price hikes. If Labour raise taxes on booze it will end up hurting moderate drinkers on low incomes the most.

Labour's claims that these announcements are about making people take responsibility for their own health are laughable. They are about interfering in the private lives of grown adults in the name of 'public health'. If strains on the NHS have driven these restrictions, it is time to have a serious conversation about the reforms needed to make the NHS sustainable in the year to come, let alone for the next decade. We cannot pass the buck to an increasingly power-mad nanny.

Notes to editors:

For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Kate Andrews, Communications Manager, at kate@adamsmith.org / 07584 778207.

The Adam Smith Institute is an independent libertarian think tank based in London. It advocates classically liberal public policies to create a richer, freer world.

ASI report "The Green Noose" is featured in The Times

The ASI's new report The Green Noose: An analysis of Green Belts and proposals for reform features in two articles from The Times. From The Times:

Green belts around cities should be stripped of their protected status to allow the construction of more than two million homes, according to a free-market think-tank.

Protecting the green belt benefits the “few rich enough to be able to afford to live in or near them” and puts greater pressure on urban green space enjoyed by far more people, the report by the Adam Smith Institute says.

The institute calculates that a million homes could be built on the outskirts of London, within walking distance of a railway station, by sacrificing just 3.7 per cent of the capital’s green belt.

Read the full article here.

Also from The Times:

However, despite the slowing pace of UK annual house price growth, Shelter, the homeless charity, warned that high prices were keeping would-be buyers out of the market. Campbell Robb, its chief executive, said: “It’s no surprise that home ownership in the UK is now below the European average.”

The figures were published as the Adam Smith Institute, the think-tank, said that London’s housing crisis could be eased by building one million homes on the 3.7 per cent of the green belt that is within walking distance of a railway station.

Read the full article here.

The new ASI report, The Green Noose: An analysis of Green Belts and proposals for reform, looks at the Green Belt’s impact on England’s housing shortage. After a comprehensive review of the causes of the housing crisis, it concludes that the planning structure is out of date and in need of radical reform.

Loosen the Green Belt and solve the housing crisis - Author of ASI report "The Green Noose" writes for Conservative Home

Author of new ASI report The Green Noose: An analysis of Green Belts and proposals for reform and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute, Tom Papworth, details the report's findings in a comment piece for Conservative Home.

Britain is facing a housing crisis. Homes are absurdly expensive – especially near our most prosperous cities, exactly where we need to be attracting new, young, talented workers.

The government expect that around 2.5 million new households will form over the next decade (not, contrary to popular myth, as a result of immigration, but due to the fact that young people are leaving home, pensioners are living longer and households are on average smaller). But best projections are that only around 1.4 million properties will be built over the next decade. Where can we fit the extra million homes?

The problem is not a shortage of land. Contrary to another popular myth, Britain is neither particularly densely populated, not is it over-developed. The population density of the UK is similar to that of Germany and less than Belgium, Japan or the Netherlands.

Read the full article here.

The new ASI report, The Green Noose: An analysis of Green Belts and proposals for reform, looks at the Green Belt’s impact on England’s housing shortage. After a comprehensive review of the causes of the housing crisis, it concludes that the planning structure is out of date and in need of radical reform.

ASI report "The Green Noose" is featured in The Daily Telegraph

New ASI report The Green Noose: An analysis of Green Belts and proposals for reform features in The Daily Telegraph. From The Daily Telegraph:

Green belt land within half a mile of a train station should be developed for housing because it only benefits the wealthy, according to a right-wing think tank.

With millions of new homes required over the next decade, the Adam Smith Institute has calculated that only a small percentage of Green Belt land would be needed to solve the housing crisis.

The proposals are likely to raise concerns among campaigners who believe that woodland and farmland in the Green Belt is an important feature of the British countryside.

The paper’s author Tom Papworth estimated that the 2.5 million new homes required over the next ten years could be built on just 2 per cent of the country’s Green Belt land.

Read the full article here.

The new ASI report, The Green Noose: An analysis of Green Belts and proposals for reform, looks at the Green Belt’s impact on England’s housing shortage. After a comprehensive review of the causes of the housing crisis, it concludes that the planning structure is out of date and in need of radical reform.

Author of ASI report "The Green Noose" appears on the Today Programme

Tom Papworth, ASI Senior Fellow and author of new ASI report The Green Noose - An analysis of Green Belts and proposals for reform appeared on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme to debate the report's recommendation to solve London's housing crisis by building on 3.7 percent of the Green Belt near a railway station.

The new ASI report, The Green Noose: An analysis of Green Belts and proposals for reform, looks at the Green Belt’s impact on England’s housing shortage. After a comprehensive review of the causes of the housing crisis, it concludes that the planning structure is out of date and in need of radical reform.

We need to rethink the Green Belt - Sam Bowman discusses new ASI report "The Green Noose" in CityMetric

Deputy Director of the Adam Smith Institute, Sam Bowman, highlights the dire state of England's housing crisis and argues for planning system reform, as laid out in the new ASI report The Green Noose: An analysis of Green Belts and proposals for reform

It will surprise no one to hear that the UK, particularly London and southern England, is experiencing a housing crisis – one that appears to be getting worse. According to the LSE’s Paul Cheshire, since the 1980s we have systematically under-built between 1.6m and 2.3m homes. House prices are now extremely high after a long period of growth, and they may continue to rise for the foreseeable future.

A new paper published today by the Adam Smith Institute reviews the evidence around England’s housing shortage, with particular focus on the Green Belt. It concludes that the Green Belt is restricting the supply of housing in a way that has a significant impact on prices – and doing so in a way that effectively redistributes wealth from poor to rich. To solve the housing crisis, we argue that we must scrap or, at a minimum, roll back the Green Belt.

Developable land, and hence the supply of housing, is constrained by the Green Belt. As a result, houses have become an investment good whose cost reflects expected future increases in demand, not just the cost of supplying a house at a given quality point.

Read the full article here. 

The new ASI report, The Green Noose: An analysis of Green Belts and proposals for reform, looks at the Green Belt’s impact on England’s housing shortage. After a comprehensive review of the causes of the housing crisis, it concludes that the planning structure is out of date and in need of radical reform.

Blame the Green Belt for Britain’s dire housing crisis - Ben Southwood on ASI report "The Green Noose" in CityAM

Head of Research at the Adam Smith Institute, Ben Southwood, discusses England's housing crisis and the need for Green Belt reform as highlighted in new ASI report The Green Noose - An analysis of Green Belts and proposals for reform in a comment piece for CityAM.

THE UK, and particularly London, is in the midst of what should be seen as a housing crisis. According to LSE professor Paul Cheshire, new build houses are about 40 per cent bigger in the Netherlands and 38 per cent bigger in Germany than they are in England. And yet housing goes for 45 per cent less per square metre in the Netherlands and, in Germany, prices did not rise throughout the entire 1971 to 2002 period.

A new paper from the Adam Smith Institute lays the blame at the door of the Green Belt. Despite the fact that 90 per cent of the UK is undeveloped, with half of the remainder gardens, Britain is hamstrung by rules hindering development in the places where people most want to live – around successful cities, particularly in the South East. According to a 2002 estimate, English Green Belts are equivalent to a 3.9 per cent tax on all urban incomes – through their effects on housing costs, and through the extra costs they impose on businesses.

These costs are much larger in the UK than in many European areas. In 2005, planning difficulties added an extra 8.37 per cent to rents in the West End and 4.31 per cent in the City, compared to 3.31 per cent in Frankfurt, 3.75 per cent in central Paris, 1.92 per cent in Amsterdam and 0.84 per cent in Brussels.

Read the full article here.

The new ASI report, The Green Noose: An analysis of Green Belts and proposals for reform, looks at the Green Belt’s impact on England’s housing shortage. After a comprehensive review of the causes of the housing crisis, it concludes that the planning structure is out of date and in need of radical reform.

Press Release: Free up 3.7 percent of London’s Green Belt to build one million new homes, says new report

For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Communications Manager Kate Andrews: kate@adamsmith.org / 07584 778207.

  • London’s housing crisis could be eased by building one million new homes on the 3.7 percent of the Green Belt within walking distance of a railway station.
  • Much of the protected land is not environmentally valuable at all—37 percent of London's Green Belt is intensively farmed agricultural land.
  • The Green Belt has negative environmental effects; protection of the Green Belt leads to more land being devoted to transport infrastructure and to more pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • England's planning system needs radical reform to allow for two and a half million new homes to be built. This would take up less than 0.5 percent of the landmass of England.

London's housing crisis could be solved by allowing the construction of one million new homes in the 3.7 percent of the Green Belt within walking distance of a railway station, a new Adam Smith Institute report has found.

The report, The Green Noose: An analysis of Green Belts and proposals for reform, looks at the Green Belt's impact on England’s housing shortage. After a comprehensive review of the causes of the housing crisis, it concludes that the planning structure is out of date and in need of radical reform.

The paper argues that the benefits of the Green Belt accrue to a small group of people at the expense of many more in denser areas. Access to the Green Belt correlates closely with household income: Green Belt policy preserves large amounts of plentiful green space around the well-off at the expense of rarer green space near the badly-off in England’s cities. By limiting supply the policy inflates house prices and rents and acts as a de facto wealth transfer from poorer non-homeowners to middle- and upper-income homeowners.

The paper, authored by Adam Smith Institute Senior Fellow Tom Papworth, estimates that the two and a half million new homes that will be required over the next decade could be built on just 0.5 percent of the landmass of England, or two percent of the country’s Green Belt land. Building one million new homes around London, where demand is strongest, would use up just 3.7 percent of the capital’s Green Belt.

Though the Green Belt’s defenders claim that this would be environmentally harmful, much of the protected land is not environmentally valuable at all—37 percent of London's Green Belt is intensively farmed agricultural land, which is environmentally costly. The report argues that cheaper land would mean more gardens and parks in residential areas, which are both environmentally positive.

The paper finds that that non-intensively farmed Green Belt land has negative environmental effects as well. Green Belt rules lead to more land being devoted to transport infrastructure and hence to more pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Land is “preserved” only at the expense of other land that is potentially more valuable environmentally but is further removed from towns.

The paper also concludes that brownfield land is not a viable alternative: perhaps surprisingly, brownfield sites often have high environmental value, and are much more expensive to build on than Green Belt.

The report proposes three different policy initiatives to reform the effect of urban containment policies on house prices, house sizes, house price volatility, costs to business and the environment. They are:

  1. Abolition of the Green Belt combined with adequate protection for areas of real environmental, heritage or amenity value;

  2. Removal of Green Belt designations from all intensive agricultural land; or

  3. Removal of Green Belt designations from all intensive agricultural land within half a mile of a railway station.

Either of the first two options would solve the UK’s housing shortage and stimulate economic growth without the loss of any land of environmental, heritage or amenity value.

The third would go a long way to solving the housing crisis in the medium term and would be far easier to achieve politically, though it would only be a stopgap solution; further reform would be needed to guarantee enough housing for the population growth expected in the long term.

Author of the report, Tom Papworth, said:

Britain faces an acute housing crisis, especially around its major metropolitan centres. Yet land is available in abundance. It is a myth that Britain is densely populated or highly built-up compared to similar countries. London could meet its additional housing need for the next decade on just 3.7 percent of Greenbelt by building only on intensive farmland within half a mile of an existing railway station.

Official justifications for Green Belt policy are based on ambiguous or confused concepts, while the popular belief that Green Belts are environmentally beneficial and enable citizens to access greenspace is untrue. In fact the opposite is the case: Green Belts are actively harmful to the environment as a third is intensive farmland and it necessitates more road and railway construction; protecting Green Belts puts greater pressure on urban greenspace which people visit far more regularly.

Deputy Director of the Adam Smith Institute, Sam Bowman, added:

This report is a major contribution to the debate around the housing crisis, and offers a simple, politically viable solution that would improve Britain’s fiscal situation and dramatically increase the supply of new homes. In the post-War period the price of housing has closely tracked the price of land, and the supply of land seems to be the limiting factor in the current housing supply crunch. That means that, to solve the housing crisis, the best policy is to liberate the land. The Green Belt is a post-War anachronism that is not fit for purpose in modern Britain. Whether you want private sector or social housing to build the new homes, the first step must be to reform it.

Notes to editors: Read The Green Noose: An analysis of Green Belts and proposals for reform here.

For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Kate Andrews, Communications Manager, at kate@adamsmith.org / 07584 778207.

The Adam Smith Institute is an independent libertarian think tank based in London. It advocates classically liberal public policies to create a richer, freer world.

Press Release: Tories right on deficit

For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Communications Manager Kate Andrews: kate@adamsmith.org / 07584 778207.

Commenting on the Prime Minister's speech on the deficit, Head of Research at the Adam Smith Institute, Ben Southwood, said:

David Cameron is staking out the right position on the UK debt and deficit.

The Conservatives' macroeconomic approach has been appropriate, bringing down the deficit but keeping aggregate demand steady with monetary policy. With inflation running above target for four years and hitting 5.2%, it is nigh-on impossible to claim that cuts have hurt the economy.

Markets have confidence in the UK's ability to pay off its national debt, so we should not worry about a debt 'catastrophe'—but that doesn't mean the government shouldn't work to get its finances under control.

Cuts are necessary because (as long as the economy is stable) when the government borrows, it uses up funds that could have been put into other activities. A large body of academic research bears out the claim that government deficits 'crowd out' private investment.

Notes to editors:
The Adam Smith Institute is an independent libertarian think tank based in London. It advocates classically liberal public policies to create a richer, freer world.