Investments  

Five key issues which should frame your vote

3. Subsidising inequality.

Perhaps the most bitter pill to swallow about public spending is that it subsidises inequality.

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The current minimum wage of £6.50 is not enough to live on and many people, mainly families, receive close to £30bn in child and working tax credits. A further £26bn is spent in housing benefit, with a growing proportion going to help private tenants meet spiralling rental costs.

This is a poor use of public money and we must move towards a situation where rents are within reach for most and a ‘living’ wage means working really does pay.

4. Property market excesses.

This is our least startling revelation: the property market is bonkers. Prices are too high, increasingly out of the reach of the average earner, and are ultimately unsustainable.

The average house price has more than quadrupled from £65,000 twenty years’ ago to £267,000 now, meaning it is now 10 times average annual earnings. In London it is closer to half a million pounds and around 17 times the average annual income.

The market has come to be dominated by speculators, not least buy-to-let investors who have acquired more than eight in 10 new builds completed over the past decade and more, and who benefit from £5bn in tax relief on interest.

It is positive that more homes will be built by whoever is in government, but talk is cheap. Alongside these supply-side reforms, politicians must begin to address the demand side of the equation with measures that do not simply equate to further stimulus.

5. Immigration and Europe.

Most people in the know suggest we have done well out of Europe and that it has been a force for good in the continent. That is has become bloated and sclerotic is beyond doubt, but any debate on our future must be balanced and the positives properly acknowledged.

Similar soundings are made over immigration and, again, we should attempt to build a fully rounded picture on how this affects the UK rather than giving in to fear over abstract numbers. We should also not forget our basic humanity.

We will eventually have a referendum on Europe, either in two years or when a treaty change to fix the eurozone triggers one anyway. This is democratic. Those advocating to remain within the EU’s lucrative market must find a way of re-framing the debate.