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13 hours ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Shaun Spiers: The answ... · 0 replies · +1 points

House price inflation has always been a product of financial and economic policy - never more so than since 1997, when the foundations for BTL pyramid buying were laid. It has almost nothing to do with immigration. The effect of immigration is muted (because immigrants tend to live at high density), and is only about how much building we need to house ourselves (which is about as much as has been built).

13 hours ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Iain Dale: My hunch is... · 1 reply · +1 points

Not logical, Spock. If what you say were true, then the NHS could provide the capacity more cheaply. They pay for contracted out operations - some of them in other countries too.

15 hours ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Shaun Spiers: The answ... · 1 reply · +1 points

Let's start with the history. Post-war (there's a big hint there), we were making up for a decade of no housebuilding, coupled with significant damage to large swathes of the housing stock from bombing. In 1951, you might have had some argument that there was a housing shortage: there were over 3.5 people per dwelling, compared with around 2.3 today. Arguing that we have a housing shortage doesn't chime with the statistics:

Our population is growing again on the back of net migration. Yet that migration imposes much less housing demand burden than it might, since it is dominated by students and other young migrants who seek to share accommodation to lower their costs. The burden is a future one, when they settle with growing families. Yet at the same time we can expect to see rising supply as the baby boom generation start to die in greater numbers, increasing the overall number of deaths. What is happening as a consequence of migration is the formation of migrant ghettos, and internal migration of those displaced by that process. This is almost certainly undesirable, as it creates social problems - but they arise from too rapid a rate of migration to allow proper assimilation. Internal migration, showing the age profile and geographic movement is in this chart:

The real housing problem is not a shortage, but rather the property bubble. That is a financial phenomenon, not a physical one. It needs a financial solution. Back in the early 1950s, real house prices were a quarter of today's - despite the real housing need from that 3.5 per household occupancy.

You could almost say that real house prices appear to be inversely related to demand, such is the extent of the financial bubble. Solving that requires solving several other economic problems: an unproductive economy that leaves us with a substantial trade deficit that has to be financed by borrowing or selling off assets; a banking sector that still needs to unwind its overdependence on property lending, and the risk that it has insufficient real collateral if prices fall too fast. Dealing with the property bubble would make all housing more affordable - which is what we sorely need, as we are funding our mortgages through borrowing abroad via the banking system, which only serves to bleed more money from the real economy.

15 hours ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Shaun Spiers: The answ... · 0 replies · +1 points

The answer is that supply is rising to meet the demand, which is much lower than the crude immigration numbers might suggest, since the immigrant population mainly consists of students - who live at high density in house or flat shares - and other young migrants - ditto. Many migrants choose to live at high density in order to be able to maximise the savings they can repatriate.

1 day ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Leighton Rowlands: Our... · 0 replies · +1 points

What is tiresome is when some animals are made more equal than others.

1 day ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Iain Dale: My hunch is... · 3 replies · +1 points

Not quite. Few among the elderly have private health insurance, because premiums start rising rapidly over the age of 50. Older people often tend to self insure and pay for private treatment if they can afford and justify it in terms of speeding or improving treatment. So their spending on private care is not contributing to average premia, while the NHS spends the majority of its budget on care for older and elderly people.

That's not to say that there aren't specialisations where private treatment is vastly more efficient. In some cases, the NHS even manages to contract out to the specialist provider. There is doubtless more that could be done in similar vein were NHS privatisation not such a political football.

1 day ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Leighton Rowlands: Our... · 1 reply · +1 points

It's time that the unjustified labelling of people as "homophobic" qualified as hate speech.

1 day ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Iain Dale: My hunch is... · 2 replies · +1 points

If you want to change opinion on the NHS, I suggest we need a well researched series of programmes that look at the good and bad of health systems elsewhere, conducted in an honest manner (i.e. not with the prejudice that the NHS is best, or the US is a complete disaster). It should also look at the failings of the NHS - such as the continued attrition of UK trained medics because they no longer want to work there. The Mail's campaign, continued today, is excellent public information:

Getting a troop of experts to do the same thing would fail to swing public opinion, however worthy their conclusions. Besides, I suspect that there is little they would come up with that would be news or against what Hunt would want: he has been around long enough to acquire understanding in some depth, even if he is politically constrained from being able to act on it by the public propaganda.

1 day ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Iain Dale: My hunch is... · 1 reply · +1 points

If you think that Corbyn's mob would behave in the genteel manner of Callaghan, then I suggest you have severely misjudged them. Mind you, I suspect that lack of honourable pairing would be the least of our troubles.

1 day ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Iain Dale: My hunch is... · 0 replies · +1 points

High costs in the US arise from the cost of malpractice insurance, where the cases can be extremely costly, both in damages awarded and in the cost of litigation, and also in unnecessary procedures and tests designed to mitigate malpractice risk. We could keep cost under better control here if we adopted systems akin to those in New Zealand and Singapore, with a greater readiness to settle malpractice issues and capped levels of compensation provided under them: people who want more compensation for loss of earnings or because they feel their hurt feelings are worth more than the capped level are free to take out additional insurance to cover it. I think this is one of the issues that Hunt understands with his call to an end to the anti whistleblower culture. Persuading the NHS to change is a different matter of course. Malpractice is vigorously defended, and covered up as much as possible.