1. Government
December 19, 2014

CityMetric Advent 19: Homes for Christmas

By City Monitor Staff

The thing about Christmas, right, is that you need somewhere to put it. To get the full effect of the pile of Christmas presents, you really want them under a Christmas tree, and if you’re gonna have a Christmas tree, then ideally you need a house.

If you haven’t got a house, in fact (or a flat, or a bedsit) then you’ve got nowhere to put your family when you come round for dinner, no chimney for Santa to come tumbling down, no roof for a herd of reindeer to land on, and more to the point you’re probably broke and so can’t afford a proper Christmas anyway and so the whole experience is going to make you miserable. If you’re homeless, Christmas is rubbish, is our point here. All the things that are meant to be happy and joyous about the experience are going to be horrible in basically the same way that having chilli salt rubbed into your eye is.

Which brings us to this:

This is the work of the National Housing Federation, the umbrella body which represents housing associations, and it’s rather clever. Click on that cracker and you get a form, where you can tell them why you think Britain needs to sort out its housing crisis. Then, based on your address, it automatically generates festive emails to your MP and to any other candidate who could plausibly win your constituency, wishing them a merry Christmas and suggesting they might like to sign a pledge promising to fix the housing crisis within a generation.

The idea is clearly to overwhelm the occupants of the next parliament with emails from potential voters, ensuring that they feel under real pressure to address this issue.

All this forms part of the Homes For Britain campaign, which’ll consist of a number of similar stunts running right up until the election. The goal is to force would-be politicians to address this crisis and win a mandate for fixing it, rather than ignoring it because it’s all a bit too hard. 

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An email campaign isn’t going to build any houses in itself, of course (you generally need tools and diggers and so on for that). But then, it doesn’t have to. The main barriers to house building in Britain – the planning system, lack of direct govt action, and, worst of all, fear of upsetting existing homeowners – are all political. A bombardment of emails would at the very least leave the next lot of MPS in no doubt that there’s a political downside in not fixing it, too.

Whether it succeeds or not remains to be seen. But the first step towards fixing a problem is acknowledging it exists, and a bombardment of miserable Christmas messages might at least ensure that fixing Britain’s housing crisis will be a pretty big part of their job. It’s worth a shot.

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