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Last Updated: Friday, 13 July 2007, 12:31 GMT 13:31 UK
What property ladder..?
Jon Sopel
Jon Sopel
The Politics Show

House being built
It is a scramble for every new house going

On this week's Politics Show...

Some of us feel a quiet satisfaction in knowing that, on paper at least, the roof over our heads is making us rich.

The extraordinary rise in house prices over the last few years has made millionaires of some quite ordinary families.

And anybody who invested in bricks and mortar some time ago can afford to feel smug.

But what about our children?

In our heart of hearts, most of us aren't really comfortable with the idea that young people starting out in life, with good but not specially well-paid jobs, have little chance of placing a foot on the bottom rung of the housing ladder.

It means people have to commute further, live in overcrowded accommodation, put strain on families and harm the labour market flexibility.

Failing foundations?

Climbing the property ladder is easy for a builder... but...

Most experts say the real reason for the upward pressure on house prices is the simple economics of supply and demand.

Family breakdown, longer life expectancy and immigration contribute to 230,000 new households being formed in England alone every year.

But we're only building around 160,000 new homes.

Too many people chasing too few houses equals price rises.

Why can't we get this right?

Other countries have rising populations, but most of our European neighbours seem to manage to match housing supply to demand.

Why can they solve the problem, when we can't?

Paola Buonadonna reports from Germany.

Smoke and mirrors?

David Cameron
What direction is the Cameron direction?

When David Cameron became leader of the Conservative Party he appointed six policy review groups, studded with starry names and party grandees, to re-orientate and re-energise party policy.

These have now started to produce their final reports.

Iain Duncan Smith produced his findings on social justice earlier this week.

But what have we learnt about the overall purpose of the process?

When Neil Kinnock conducted a policy review in the late 80s, the clear intent was to ditch unpopular left-wing policies.

The same was true of Tony Blair's changes to the Labour programme after 1994.

So is the Conservative review process actually a Trojan horse for David Cameron to covertly shift the party to the centre?

Or are the policies emerging old Conservatism dressed up in shiny new clothes?

There is a third possibility of course - that the process has no direction at all.

We try to get to the bottom of it.

Explosive exclusion review

David Laws MP
Social exclusion Laws

If a political party announced to you it wanted to cut public sector pensions, incapacity benefit and tax credits for the less well off, you might conclude that it was also seeking to cut its representation in the House of Commons.

The trouble is that if you want to find the money to do good things that help the neediest, and tax rises are politically difficult, there are a limited number of places you can look to find the cash.

The Liberal Democrats have done their own review of how to tackle social exclusion, and some of their answers are political dynamite.

I'll be speaking to the Liberal Democrats' David Laws.

The Politics Show finishes this weekend and is off air for the summer. We will return on Sunday 16 September 2007, after we have extracted the sand from between our toes... so dig out the sun-block and Speedos and enjoy your summer too...

The Barker Gallery: Blair's legacy... The Great Leveller

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