TWO BIRDS WITH ONE STONE : Solving the Brittish and Swedish hosuing shortages with the same solutions

University essay from KTH/Samhällsplanering och miljö

Abstract: When too many afford too little, one could claim that a housing market is malfunctioning. The United Kingdom and Sweden suffer from housing shortages in the major cities, creating low affordability, great strain on lower income groups and worse foundation for social sustainability. Considering matters such as different housing histories, political ideologies and policies, Sweden and the UK may seem quite unalike at first, resulting in expectations for two ‘distinct’ housing shortages. However, when a more thoroughly examination is made, it is possible the situation may appear different. Perhaps, it is even possible solving the British and Swedish housing shortages with the same solutions; two birds with one stone.    The purpose with this thesis is to: analyse and compare the British and Swedish housing histories, identify challenges, present a few options to solving today’s low affordability, discuss how these shortages are solved so that affordable housing is obtained in both countries.    To investigate this, the four questions:   1.    Do Sweden and the UK have similar housing histories, and have they contributed to today’s shortages?   2.    Are there similar housing challenges in Sweden and the UK?   3.    Are there the same solutions to the housing shortages of Sweden and the UK?   4.    Which are the most effective options for achieving an affordable housing future?   ; were asked and tried to be answered.    The intentions are that this thesis will be of use to housing debates in both countries, planners, professionals and decision makers, as well as interested and affected laymen, in search for knowledge concerning the reality they are faced with.    Through examining the British and Swedish housing histories from 1946 to 2018, policies during the eras of the ‘Welfare State’, the ‘Liberal Society’ and the ‘State of Crisis’, the affordability challenges of tomorrow where formulated. To find possible options to face these challenges, five experts in the UK were interviewed, leading up to the four options concerning affordability; the market liberal: lowering construction cost and building smaller homes, and the social: local authority development / council housing and policy changes to increase social values in land.    After analysing pros and cons with these options, their effect on increasing affordability and social sustainability were discussed, along with preventing further deregulation and privatisation of the housing markets as well as investing more in the countryside.    The final recommendations and conclusions conclude that policies in both countries need to be changed if these housing shortages are to be truly ended and long-term sustainability on the housing markets achieved. To obtain affordability and stable housing markets, attitudes and policies throughout the societies would have to change towards viewing homes more as a human right, rather than a commodity. Another conclusion is that local authorities/councils have proven themselves to be capable developers in the past, which they can become yet again but only if the current systems change.

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