Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 26 June 2014


If you want to know what is going on in the House of Commons, ask a doorkeeper not an MP. Similarly, they say that much wisdom is dispensed by both taxi drivers and hairdressers – indeed, it is a pity that they are not running the country.

Last Friday I had my hair cut by my usual stylist who is in her early/mid-twenties. Our conversation strayed, as it usually does away from holidays and special occasions to issues of more significance. Her partner and she are desperately saving up to buy their first home together. All of her friends are in the same boat, either living at home with parents – less than ideal as adults – or renting in the private sector at substantial rent. This conversation was one of many similar ones I have had recently, confirming the statistics: there is a chronic housing shortage.

These youngsters are typical of many young couples today, who have been denied, through economic circumstances the joy and security of home ownership. This is why it is vital that we allow more house building to take place over the next five years. It is not for immigrants or asylum seekers – it is for our own young people, our sons and daughters, hairdressers, police officers, nurses and carpenters.

I was born in 1955. I bought my first property at age 24 as was normal in those day. On the advice of my dad, I took out the biggest mortgage I could get and as the years rolled by and the monthly payments became more manageable, it was time to move again. I have traded up 4 times, as many others have, so that for the last 20 years we have lived in a beautiful home. None of this would have been possible if I had not been able to get my foot on the housing ladder as a young solicitor.

The average age of home ownership is now 38. Not 24, 38. It is due largely to a housing shortage that has condemned an entire generation to live with mum or rent.

Many of us who have owned our own house for years would rather that the builders did not build on that nice stretch of green just around the corner. But new houses have got to go somewhere. We are just beginning to see light at the end of tunnel: the hope of home ownership for my hairdresser and thousands like her.

posted by Gary @ 11:38