Land Purchase Act: Winning entry of the IEA Breakthrough Prize 2018


Economic Affairs

Ahead of the 2018 Budget, Julian Jessop outlines his 'Wishlist' of policy announcements

Winning essay for the IEA Richard Koch Breakthrough Prize
Winner of the £50,000 prize: Ben Clements

For more information about the IEA Breakthrough Prize please visit


  • Free market ideals should not be limited to esoteric debates about what could be achieved in theory. Indeed, competition, decentralisation, accountability and choice can solve the biggest challenges of our time. The cost and inaccessibility of housing are among the greatest challenges of British public policy beyond Brexit, yet successive governments have acquiesced to special interests and offered short-term gimmicks instead of radical change.

  • A free market in housing can be that disruptive force that democratises homeownership for those who had given up hope. Despite the need to address deep-seated issues in housing however, free markets thinkers need to also create policies that are bold, popular but politically possible, especially given the wide-ranging free market movement this could start.

  • This essay proposes the “Land Purchase Act”: a market-based policy that centres on how public land can be used to help disadvantaged people acquire housing. And not simply the type of housing that bureaucrats and central planners think people should live in. Instead, people should be given the opportunity to live in the houses that they want and are attractive. We can create a new generation of homeowners and fundamentally rewrite the policymaking landscape in housing.

Ben Clements

Ben works as an analyst for an intelligence firm in London and is responsible for helping clients understand the business, political and security risks to their operations across the Asia-Pacific region. He graduated from the University of Manchester in 2016 after reading for a degree in Chinese and Japanese.

Ben was also a finalist of the IEA’s pioneering Brexit Prize competition in 2014 and the Richard Koch Breakthrough Prize in 2017.

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