Author Archives: Jack Lee-Brown

Is self-build an answer to the housing crisis?

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For some time, the government has often fallen short of its target of 300,000 new homes per year and we are now in a housing crisis where there are not enough homes to go around, thus driving prices up. So what can be done differently?

One of the advantages of being a university student is that I get to hear about some of the latest innovations being tossed around in different sectors. One such sector is architecture and some are asking what the future of housing may, or perhaps should, look like. An example of an innovation is the idea of self-building. This is where the person, family or community take control of the design, materials and labour of the houses they want and this can come in a variety of different ways. For instance, someone could order prefabricated panels or even rooms and have them transported to their site whilst someone else could follow the ‘Segal Method’ and build their home using panels of plywood you would buy from B&Q. But how does this different approach help in the current crisis?

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 12 Comments

Should social media use be curbed for under-16s?

Since the murder of Brianna Ghey last year, her mother has been calling for a ban on social media use by children under the age of 16 and this, reportedly, is being considered by the government. Some have even called for those under 16 to be banned from phones. But are these proposals enforceable? Are they liberal in nature? What can actually be done if not?

Esther Ghey has, understandably, called for under 16’s in this country to be banned from social media platforms such as Instagram, X and TikTok. Any ban, I think, would be intended to protect children …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 9 Comments

Is regional devolution the way forward?

Many states around the world, such as the USA and Germany, are federations made up of relatively individual regions that enjoy varying degrees of autonomy. Here in the UK, we have devolution. Powers given to elected representatives (separate from those in the House of Commons) in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and a handful of “combined unitary authorities” in England. Each have had different successes and failures and each have their own problems and strengths. So how do we learn from these to make them, and new ones, better in the future and what form should that take?

I, for one, would advocate for the idea of more regionalisation via regional devolution. We have seen in countries like Portugal, Italy and already the UK that this can work but I would like to see it work everywhere. Manchester and the West Midlands are great examples of how giving political power to the areas closest to the action result in benefits such as better local economy, as seen in the West Midlands with the region having an economy similar to some European countries such as Slovakia, and greater political satisfaction, shown by Andy Burnham’s (relative) popularity.

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Mental health – we need to talk

Mental health, we need to talk. In 2020, a study suggested that mental distress had risen almost ten points, in less than one year, to 27.3% of the population and others, more recently, suggest the number may be even higher today. It frustrates me that it is only in recent years that the conversation around it has become mainstream. People have been having to deal with it for centuries, way too often alone, yet today some people ostracise the younger generation for now actually wanting to talk about it, even with the discussion around it being mainstream. I find that to be massively counterproductive.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 4 Comments

The Tories start on the authoritarian road

This week marked a bleak precedent for the UK. On Wednesday, the government passed a bill that begins the erosion of the independence of our courts, goes against the European Convention of Human Rights and puts the civil service in an impossible position, not to mention the £400 million of potential money to be sent to Rwanda, when 320 Tory MPs voted in favour of the ‘Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill’.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 9 Comments
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