May's radicalism stinks of disappointment

15 Oct 2016

Theresa May promises a radical agenda in the wake of Brexit, but the radicalism she advocates is somewhat disappointing to those praying for a classically liberal solution to the economy.


Whilst it is refreshing that May understands the message voters sent out to the establishment on June 23rd, her proposed policies are not the answer. During her conference speech, the Prime Minister delivered a bold message to businesses, warning them the Government will come after them if they behave poorly. She also wants to deliver fresh reforms to the energy and housing markets that involve direct intervention.


It seems that she has lurched towards ideas that stink of Miliband's 1970s-style policies. The former Labour leader tweeted that May's speech was reminiscent of his belief that the state can act as a positive force for change.


The housing crisis cannot be solved through the 'dead hand' of government. What it needs is a decrease in regulation as the existing rules fail young tenants and homeowners paying a substantial amount of rent or struggling to save for a mortgage respectively.


The House in Multipe Occupation (HMO) licenses is a necessary requirement for landlords who are renting out properties to five or more people who form more than one household. Yet these regulations ignore a family of six who are living in a two-storey flat, the latter of which is regarded as 'safer'.


Laws like this prevent tenants from finding properties that are suitable to their needs and income. Miliband's fantasy policy of rent controls would only reduce the supply in rental properties further. They are a novel solution for people desperate to find sufficient housing. If the HMO was scrapped, this would enable people to discover rental properties and prices suitable for them.


Planning laws need to be liberalised immediately. The greenbelt has evolved into a protective blanket for agricultural land and dumpster sites that are not enviornmentally sustainable. It would take building on 3.7 per cent of London's green belt to provide one million extra homes for many Londoners.


The housing crisis itself could be easily solved by producing two and a half million homes on 0.5 per cent of England's landmass.


The Big Six energy companies control 99 per cent of the energy market. This issue will fail to be resolved if the Government intervenes with new regulations. The problem here is that the rules are so complicated that competiting with them is almost impossible.


Stephen Fitzpatrick established OVO Energy in September 2009. Setting up this company was not an easy task. Nine months were wasted filling in forms.  The high bars of entry into the market alarm many entrants and ultimately fail to attract new competitors. If energy laws were relaxed, it would become a more lucrative sector to ensure new companies are created, thereby destroying the dominance of the Big Six.


It is refreshing to witness the Conservative leader destroying the liberal-left era with a fresh approach that neither Cameron nor Blair embarked upon. But her solutions are appropriate for the 1960s, not 21st century post-Brexit Britain.


Regulation has become the popular byword for resolving the economic crash that has culminated since 2008, but our country needs a reduction in intervention if we are to learn from the mistakes of the past. That is what makes the Government's new form of radicalism so disappointing.




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