The BBC have an extraordinary story this morning. There are 4.5million people on waiting lists for social housing and around 100,000 new build homes lying unsold and empty. Housing Associations are refusing to use a government fund to buy thousands of these to plug the gap because they are not of a high enough standard. Apparently, unlike private dwellings, social housing needs to be of a minimum size and built to a higher standard.

Is it just me or are you looking at this, scratching your head too? Sutton has the second worst housing stock in London, requiring £125million to bring all of their homes to a basic liveable standard. People across the country are living in social housing that may be built to a minimum size, but have tenants packed in like sardines with children sharing rooms with their parents. Enough damp and condensation is produced in many places to solve the drought problems in the south east and mould is prevalent, bringing on asthma and other such complaints. Yet a partial solution is being knocked back by those who cannot see the wood for the trees.

Millions of people in the UK have scrimped and saved for deposits, taken on bigger and bigger mortgages as the housing market exploded, in order to get a foot on the ladder. Many had to have a size of family to suit their circumstances and size of home, rather than the other way around. The social landlords that are eschewing the empty properties are peddling an ideal that is not available to those who can just about afford their own home and is not helping those who can’t either. They need to get out of their reasonably sized, ivory towers, built to an excellent environmental standard natch, and join the real world. If they have the cash, buy the homes. Take advantage of the 10 year NHBC guarantee to put right any of the faults and snags.