BI & housing costs

The BI should include a component for housing. This would be a standardised amount across the country, regardless of different housing costs in different areas, to try to counter the inflationary effect of the gravitational pull of metropolitan areas.

Councils would be obliged to offer accommodation of a very basic, prescribed standard (low enough that no one would choose to live in it if they could afford to move out but just sufficient to maintain dignity) to people meeting certain criteria. People who had been born within the boundaries, lived there for at least the preceding 3 years, or employed there should be eligible. The rents that councils may charge tenants for this accommodation would be set by the government, relative to the value of this component of BI (and adjusted to take account of family sizes). It would be up to councils whether they provided this accommodation through council housing, rented accommodation, or some combination of both.

If local accommodation is more expensive than average and the BI component is not sufficient to cover it, councils will have to cover the difference between what they pay to provide the accommodation and what they are paid for it from their local tax revenue. Business rates and other sources of income would have been repatriated, so councils would be in more direct control of their income, and more accountable for the consequences of planning decisions that drive up local prices.

If property prices go up, the cost of providing this housing goes up while the number of people needing to use the service increases. Local taxes go up, the area becomes more expensive and less attractive to live in, and prices should come back down again. This should help to reduce the longstanding tendency to absurd property bubbles in the UK, eating up much too large a proportion of people's incomes to be sustainable or helpful to the economy (other than financial services).

This would replace Housing Benefit and similar schemes. It would remove the incentive to stay in social housing for fear of losing a valuable place that will be difficult to get back once you've lost it. If you can afford to move out, you move out and take all your BI housing money with you to put towards the cost of a nicer place. If you have to move back, you can move back. People can aspire and try to move up, without being overwhelmed by the risks of failure.