The letter “Town under threat” from David Hargrave (14th October) emphasises the shortcomings of Tory thinking.

The housing market is quite irrational. There is no actual shortage of houses; they are mostly outside the means of those that need them.

The housing market is now ‘speculative’ and homes are snapped up to either rent out or use as a retreat to escape a city’s greater Covid threat.

One effect is that we pour about £78 billion a year straight into the pockets of landlords via Housing Benefit. Who wouldn’t?

Not only do landlords get a return on their capital which beats any savings bank interest rate by miles; steadily increasing house prices also provide capital gains at relatively huge rates.

If the government immediately spent £150 billion building 1,000,000 affordable one, two and three-bedroomed homes at an average cost of £150,000 each and rented them out at an average of £150 per week (a 5% return on investment), look at what would happen.

The cost of borrowing from the Bank of England at a 0.5% interest rate would amount to only £15 per week per average home.

In 2019 government figures showed that there were 3.6 million claimants for Housing Benefit (HB) so renting one of the new homes would save an average of £21,000 per annum per HB claimant or £400 per week.

So in addition to our economy getting affordable rents of £7.5 billion per annum from a million happier more productive and well-fed instead of fed-up families, the economy would benefit by not paying landlords £22 billion per annum.

Instead of our cash being used to pay the already well-off, it would go towards generating a more socially-acceptable environment. Landlords could find projects more worthwhile to invest in like Green technology.

We need to decide urgently whether we want to use houses for the well-off to profit by or to live in. We cannot have both. We have serious choices to make.

Covid 19 has revealed the very thin crust our society is walking on.