That poor people have a roof over their heads is just one of those things we’re going to ensure in a just or even reasonable society. That everyone gets taxed in order to do something that just doesn’t need doing is less of a goal of reasonable public policy. And yet giving government the job does seem to mean both rather than just the one we’re aiming at:
A flagship Government housing programme has lent billions of pounds to house buyers, the majority of whom would have been able to purchase a property without the scheme’s support.
Help to Buy was launched in April 2013 by former chancellor George Osborne as a way of getting more first-time buyers onto the property ladder. It has been used to support more than 200,000 purchases.
However, a new report by the National Audit Office (NAO) shows that three-fifths of users could have afforded a house regardless, even if it was not necessarily their ideal home.
Almost a third of all buyers, equivalent to 65,000 households, would have been able to purchase the exact same property without the support of the scheme.
The report also highlighted that thousands of high earners have taken advantage, with around 4pc of users having household incomes over £100,000.
There are many things that is is desirable get done. There are things that must be done and that can only be done by government. Our problems near always stem from the extension of that second point to that first - if it’s desirable that it gets done then government must do it.
And yet government is a very blunt instrument, it’s really not efficient at any of the things it tries to do. Where the “must” comes into play then we can shrug and agree that that’s just a cost of doing what is essential. But everywhere else we should be doing the actual hard work of pondering whether the inefficiency wipes out any benefit of the policy.
This is before we consider the actual policy under discussion, the amazing silliness of dealing with high prices by subsidising demand.