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Rooms for improvement

副标题:住房问题尚有改进余地

How to solve Britain’s housing crisis

如何解决英国的住房危机

The outrageous cost of housing constrains the economy and poisons politics

高的离谱的房价,使得经济疲软,朝纲败坏

Aug 3rd 2017   2017年8月3日文章



(图片:英格兰住房价格中位数与收入比)

ON EVERY side, Britain’s politicians are grappling with problems of immense scale and nightmarish complexity. How to manage the departure from the European Union? How to help a crumbling health service cope with an ageing, weakening population? How to deal with persistent regional deprivation? Yet one national scourge that holds back the economy and poisons politics is readily solvable—politicians just need to be brave enough to act. That scourge is the cost of housing.

英国的政客们目前正忙于处理决定国家命运的且惊人复杂的众多大事件,但很不幸,他们陷入了多线作战的处境。如何成功脱欧?如何让一个摇摇欲坠的国民医疗体系为日益老化、弱化的人口结构服务?如何处理地区贫困的顽疾?但至少,还有一项另这个国家苦恼的,使经济停滞不前、朝纲败坏的问题亟待处理----当然政客们得有勇气迈出那一步,那就是房价问题

Through the roof
The ratio of median house prices to earnings in England hit 7.7 in 2016, its highest recorded level. In the past four decades house prices have grown by more in Britain than in any other G7 country. Home ownership has been falling for more than a decade, after rising for most of the past century. In London housing is outlandishly dear: before the Brexit vote sent the pound tumbling, it was the priciest city in the world for renters.

在2016年,英格兰地区的住房价格中位数与收入比例达到了7.7,创下了历史记录。在过去40年中,英国的房价增长幅度是所有G7国家中最高的,拥有住房产权人数自上世纪末达到顶峰后,已持续10多年保持下降。伦敦的房价更是上了天:在脱欧公投使英镑跳水前,它是全球房租最贵的城市

The cost of housing has knock-on effects across the economy. As people are forced out to the suburbs, cities become less dynamic. Workers waste time on marathon, energy-sapping commutes. People from the regions cannot afford to move to cities where they might find work. Businesses cannot clear land to build. It is perhaps no coincidence that Britain’s growing housing mess has coincided with stagnant productivity.

房价的居高不下已经对经济产生了连带效应,人们被逼着往郊区迁徙,城市变的越来越失去活力,上班族们的时间和精力大量耗费在路途遥远的上下班路途上,来自各地区的人们或许能找到市区的工作,但却负担不起迁入市区的住房成本,企业工厂也无力购地扩建,英国的房价市场的混乱造成了生产力的停滞,这样的猜测或许并非空穴来风

All this has fostered a growing sense of inequity. Britons over the age of 65, a fifth of the population, own over 40% of the housing wealth held by owner-occupiers. Youngsters with rich parents can buy their first house thanks to the “Bank of Mum and Dad”. Everyone else must resign themselves to renting small properties for life, or to continuing to pay off their mortgage long after retirement. At the election in June half of all private renters voted for Labour and Jeremy Corbyn, up from a third who supported the party in 2010. As home-ownership declines, the Conservatives, in particular, are beginning to worry (see article)—as indeed they should.

所有上述情况,让人产生了对社会公平性的怀疑。在英国,65岁以上的人口数量为1/5,却占据着40%住房的产权,富二代们可以靠着爹妈的赞助购买首套房,而其他人则要么不甘心地租住鸽笼谋生,要么得背上退休后都还不清的房贷。在6月的大选中,与2010年的1/3支持率相比,一半的私人租房者把票投给了科尔宾的工党,随着住房产权拥有率的下降,保守党开始慌了---他们早该这样了

What makes Britain’s housing squeeze maddening is that, unlike many other problems, something can easily be done about it. Britain needs to get building. The consensus is that, to keep prices in check, it must put up 300,000 houses a year, double what it erected in 2015-16. Mr Corbyn says the answer is a huge expansion of public housing, like the one in the Wilson and Callaghan governments in the 1970s. This would be expensive, especially if such housing was let at below-market rates. And few Britons aspire to rent from the council for life.

与其他问题不同,英国房价疯涨的问题是可以轻松被解决的,英国需要增加住房供给,这是控制房价的必然措施,为达到此目的,每年需建造30万套住房,是15-16年的两倍,科尔宾称,此举旨在为了大幅增加公共住房供给,正如70年代的工党哈罗德·威尔逊政府和詹姆斯·卡拉翰政府所做的一样。这样做将会大量增加公共开支,尤其是若公共住房被允许以低于市场利率出租的话,另外的问题是,很少有英国人愿意向地方政府租房租一辈子。

Better would be to unleash the market. A change to regulations on green-belt land, which surrounds cities and which is designed to block construction, is long overdue. Far from being a bucolic retreat, much of the green belt is intensively farmed. By one estimate, more of Surrey is devoted to golf courses than houses. Within Greater London enough green-belt land languishes to build 1.6m houses at average densities.

所以本刊认为,解除房地产市场发展的束缚,会是一个更好的方法,其一就是修改束缚城市扩张的“绿化带”规则,该规则的愿意是防止城市过度扩张,早已过时,许多土地并没有起到户外休闲的作用,更多的是作为农田被集中开垦。譬如,有人估计,许多萨里郡的土地都被用作建设高尔夫球场,而不是住房,还有,大伦敦地区有大把闲置“绿化带”土地,按平均密度计算,可以建造160万套住房

(译者注:英国的城市绿化带是一种针对城市扩张规模所设立的限制,在城市的四周用乡村包围,保持土地用于农业、林地等,用于户外休闲等作用,保证生态多样性)

The government should also cut stamp duty, a land tax levied on property transactions. Over the long term the burden has risen, which is one reason why the rate of transactions has slumped. Abolishing or replacing stamp duty would help more young families live in decent homes. Oldies could downsize at less cost, freeing up more of Britain’s 25m or so empty bedrooms.

其二,政府应该考虑减免房产交易的印花税。印花税一直是是成交率低迷的原因,废除或代替印花税将帮助更多的年轻家庭改善居住条件,而对老人们来说,换置更小住房的成本将降低,可以激活英国约2500万套空置住房。

(译者注:英国的印花税根据房产价格分档,每档皆为固定比率,2016年英国颁布了新印花税政策,购买出租项目和第二套住房,印花税比原固定比率多3%)

And Westminster needs to do away with the perverse incentives arising from local-government taxation, in particular the out-of-date system of council tax, which is levied on housing. Councils miss out on much of the extra local tax revenue from new houses, because it is hoovered up and redistributed by central government. But they are lumbered with the cost of providing local services for newcomers. That should change. Councils should be allowed to charge taxes that reflect the true values of properties—and keep the proceeds.

其三,议会需要废除那些违背常情的地方政府税收政策,这些政策是房价上涨的诱因,尤其是针对住户而征收的房屋税(又名市政税,人头税),该系统早已过时。还有,地方政府无法获取新建住房带来的额外税收收入,因为这些税收都是直接上缴中央并由其再分配了,但地方政府又不得不为本地公共设施花费大量支出,来应付入住新房的外来者,这样的情况不能再继续了,地方政府应当有权力根据房产的真实价值直接征税,并保留这些税收的收益

Economically straightforward is not the same as politically easy. Even so, Theresa May, the prime minister, has so far failed to show any mettle over housing. Her government has proposed nothing more than tweaks to a broken system. This lack of leadership feeds a crisis that is entirely unnecessary.

在经济问题上做大刀阔斧的改革,不比在政治上那么简单,正是由于如此,首相特蕾莎·梅德迄今为止,在住房问题上是束手无策,她领导的政府仅仅对病入膏肓的住房系统采取了一些不痛不痒的微调,正是她的领导无方助长了一场本可完全避免的住房危机