SarahBeenySpringIssue2017 - 32
▲ THE BIG INTERVIEW
'Culturally, it would be brilliant if
there was more multi-generational
living - but it has to start with not
moving away in the first place!'
I don't want them to have it". The
truth is, if you blame other people you
can't change (the status quo). The
only way is if YOU change it, not
blame other people.'
On the theme of taking control of
your own circumstances, Sarah's also
starring in a new series for Channel 4
called How To Be Mortgage Free, which
starts on 20 April.
'It's about slightly alternative ways to
build and live that are more affordable
than the traditional way,' she explains.
'So it's someone who's building a
house on the back of a bale trailer,
and he's pulling the trailer around his
parents' farm and living in it.
'It's really fun, because it features
quirky, interesting ways of building.
But the best bit is they're affordable.
Obviously, if you're not paying rent or
a mortgage, you can save more quickly
- much like we used to in the olden
days, when young people stayed with
their parents and saved money.'
THE FAMILY WAY
Living with relatives is something of a
favoured issue for Sarah, who thinks
it's a shame that children move far away
from their parents - although she
recognises there's no quick solution.
'Without question, I think our
society has declined since it became
the norm that you wouldn't live with
your parents and, dare I say it, that
parents thought "I don't want my
children living with me".
'Older people often aren't prepared
to move nearer children, and they've
got a lot of expectations and demands
for how they want to live.
'I'm not criticising - I'm saying
it works both ways. The difficulty is
the separation that happens when
children leave home.
'After 20 years of living completely
independently, everyone's worked out
their own systems for coping, and
it's tricky to say: "Well, let's scrap all
the systems and move back together".
'People haven't had to tolerate each
other, so they've grown apart - and
that's hard to bring back together.
032 | MAY 2017
So, if people won't live with their
parents and they can't afford to buy
a house, should they accept they will
be renting forever?
'There's no crime in renting and
if your mortgage is an interest-only
one, you're effectively renting your
house from the bank. You're just
maintaining it yourself and hoping
there'll be a capital gain. As it's not a
repayment mortgage, you'll still owe
all the money in 25 years' time.'
Renters have gained the attention
of communities minister Sajid Javid,
whose White Paper on the 'broken
housing market' proposes banning
letting agents from charging fees to
tenants, while pushing landlords to
agree to longer-term contracts so
people have more security.
Sarah is all for this, but thinks
the proposal needs to come with tax
incentives: 'Personally, I'm much
more of a carrot than a stick person.
Legislating against things is much
more expensive to control, you've got
to have teams of people checking.
'So you could encourage longer-term
lets for professional landlords and give
incentives to make this happen by
cutting tax on their capital repayments.
'I don't think it's sensible to force
landlords to have longer tenancies.'
Critics of the White Paper have
called it a 'damp squib' that fails to
tackle the UK's housing issues. Sarah
is generally critical of government
policy in this area, and doesn't share
MPs' views that the UK needs to build
250,000 new homes each year.
'"Housing crisis" is an interesting
term,' she says, 'but I'd argue that there
isn't one. There are plenty of houses
you can afford to buy, but you can't get
a job there or you can't get there.
'It's a very short-term fix to say
we've got areas that people want
to live in, because that's where the
opportunities are and where all the
transport comes to, so we'll just stuff >
'WITHOUT QUESTION, OUR SOCIETY HAS
DECLINED SINCE IT BECAME THE NORM
THAT YOU WOULDN'T LIVE WITH YOUR
PARENTS. MORE MULTI-GENERATIONAL
LIVING WOULD BE BRILLIANT'