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Imposed Housing Targets - Dacorum, St Albans and Mysterious Case of the Missing Cap

November 27, 2020 2:26 PM
Originally published by West Hertfordshire Liberal Democrats
The Housing Targets Imposed by the Government, or The Mysterious Case of the Missing Cap (Easy Read Version).
Indignant Cat (Alex Chambers, Unsplash)
The Office of National Statistics is charged with estimating all sorts of things, but among them the demand in the community for more houses. Everyone knows we should be building new houses. The government thinks we should build 300,000 a year in the UK. They put that in their manifesto and they were re-elected in December 2019 with a large majority.
So the government said, "The people voted for our manifesto to build 300,000 houses per year - and build them we will!" And to make that happen they took powers to force councils to build the share of the 300,000 that they, the government, wanted.
So the government said to Dacorum Borough Council, "You must build 922 houses a year. There's lots of land round the edge of Hemel Hempstead and round Tring and Berkhamsted, so shut up and build! We don't care if it's Green Belt, we don't care if it's wall-to-wall houses from Westminister to Aylesbury - just do as you're told and build on it anyway."
And those people who hadn't voted for the government, and who liked silly things like grass an' fresh air an' footpaths an' woods an' birds an' flowers an' stuff like that, said, "That's not fair, that's lots more than the Office of National Statistics calculated, and anyway their estimate has just gone down."
And the government said, "Shut up, we're the Government. We don't care how many votes you got, we've got more MPs! Now go away and build the houses!"
But they wouldn't shut up and the government got angry and went down to Drummond Gate in Pimlico and asked the National Statistics people, "How did you get those housing figures you're telling these minority people about?" And the statistics people in Drummond Gate, said, "Not us Guv - it's our colleagues at HQ in South Wales who take the raw figures and apply adjustments and allow for special situations an' things."
So the government got reely, reely angry and sent people to the HQ in Cardiff Road in Newport and they got very excited and cried, "Ah! That's the problem - you're using an Algey Rythm, and it's the Wrong One." And the statistics people said, "Oh, no it isn't! It's what we've been using for years." And the government said, "Oh, yes it is - if it doesn't all add up to the 300,000 figure we put in our manifesto an' what the people voted for then it's wrong. Look, it's got factors an' ratios an' second order differentials - AND IT'S GOT CAPS!!". And the statistics people said rather timidly, "But we need those caps so that some places with special circumstances don't get too many houses forced on them..."
But the government was triumphant. "Houses are a good thing - and you can never have too much of a good thing! And besides we want to stuff those whingers in Dacorum, an' most of all we want to show those Lib Dems in St Albans a thing or two!"
An' so they fiddled with the factors and the ratios and took away the cap and then the figures added up to 337,000 - which was even better than the 300,000 in the manifesto that the people had voted for.
So the government went back to Westminster rejoicing and cracked the whip and all the little MPs voted for them and they lived happily ever after (so far), dreaming of all those lovely houses all across the Chilterns.
With help from Liz Uttley, Photo by Alex Chambers on Unsplash