Reintroduce investment support for housebuilding

We need more housing in Norrland.
We need more housing in Norrland.

It is not in anyone's interest that the shortage of housing slows down growth in northern Sweden.

Opinion 28 mars 2023 16:02

When the new right-wing government presented its first state budget, one of the announcements was that the investment support for the construction of new rental properties will be phased out completely from January 1, 2023.

It was a decision that prompted adamant – and highly justified – criticism from the municipal councilors in Skellefteå, Boden, Gällivare, Kiruna and other places in the north that are growing and have a great need to rapidly increase housebuilding.

The Norrland job market is red-hot. All sectors of society are crying out for labour. The north needs bus drivers, taxi drivers and industrial workers to nurses, teachers and dentists, to people who can work in the hospitality industry. 

But if people are to be able to seek their fortune in the north, jobs are not enough. People must also have somewhere to live.

The municipalities are doing their best to reduce the housing shortage. But there are limits to what the municipalities can do on their own. The state also needs to do its part and help ensure that more housing can be built at reasonable costs. 

It is not in the interest of the government and the Riksdag that the lack of housing slows down growth in northern Sweden. On the contrary. It is in the national interest that the positive development in Västerbotten and Norrbotten continues.

It is also not true - as the new housing minister Andreas Carlson (KD) claims - that the investment support was expensive, ineffective and had little significance for construction.

It is enough to study how the growth shrivelled when the old Alliance (M, KD, L and C) scrapped the investment support that existed before the change of government in 2006. Construction activity dropped like a stone. 

In a report in 2013 – after seven years of Alliance housing policy – ​​the Swedish Housing Agency stated that construction was down to historically low levels. The housing shortage was described as a serious obstacle to growth in Sweden.

It was also the reason why the Social Democrats reintroduced investment support when they regained power in 2014.

It undoubtedly had a positive effect. Housebuilding has increased since 2014 and investment support has played an important role.

In the years 2017–2020, approximately 33,000 rental apartments were granted government investment support. In addition to this, close to 5,800 student housing units have been granted support during the same period. Affordable housing has been provided to a large number of people.

These are concrete results that should cause some reflection even by a Christian Democrat housing minister. The investment support has demonstrably worked better than the laissez-faire policy that characterized the entire Alliance government's period between 2006-2014.

In short: Carlson and the government should rethink. 

Some form of government stimulus is needed to speed up construction. The market cannot be trusted to fix everything.

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