I find it remarkable how often Governments end up achieving the opposite of what they seek. They see a problem, misdiagnose its real causes and then apply remedies which might be popular in the short-term but actually make the problem worse. At the same time they don’t do the harder things which they could and should.

A classic case is the housing market. The baby boom generation have made more from owning their houses than they ever did working - tax-free too - but are beginning to wake up to the fact that their children don’t have much chance of owning a property and are struggling to pay the rent instead.

The price of housing - both value and rental cost - is too high. The problem is simple - a consistent surplus of debt fuelled demand exceeding supply. People want the best housing they can afford - as an owner or a tenant - there isn’t enough to satisfy demand so the price goes up.

The public sector isn’t going to return to a major building programme anytime soon so up steps the Government and does everything wrong.

First, whilst letting the wealthy baby boomers off with no tax to pay on their large gains, they whack those trying to get into the housing market with punishing rates of land and buildings transaction tax (LBTT) and new mortgage rules which make life hard especially for those who are self-employed or with part-time jobs.

Building regulations are constantly tightened to chase ever smaller insulation gains and save scarce water (really - in Scotland!) all of which must be paid for as do bat surveys, new roundabouts and everything else. Nothing is free.

The Scottish Government, having just about sensibly navigated the introduction of fairer tenancy arrangements, is now under pressure to activate legislation which will limit rises in rents - popular support for such a move is high - but it would be unwise to do it because it would reduce supply and make matters worse. The recent increase in the premium rate of LBTT payable on the purchase of second homes is more of the same - looks like a well aimed kick at people with too much money and more than one house but the real effect is another deterrent to people becoming landlords - again the supply of housing for rent is undermined.

If the Government in Scotland actually wants to help it needs to stop courting popularity. Instead of being penalised through the LBTT system by being charged a premium when they buy a second property why don’t buyers get a discount if they make the property available for rent for a period of, say, at least 5 years? If increased regulation has a role it should be aimed at the rapidly increasing supply of short-term holiday rental properties - which take homes out of use for long-term residents.

Much more fundamental though is that the Scottish Government needs to use its considerable power - it needs no more from Westminster - to alter the pattern of demand. The problem of excessive house prices and rising rent is largely concentrated in particular City areas. What should be done is to move state activities away from city centres and out to places such as Port Glasgow, Kilmarnock, Campbeltown and many others where even a small number of new jobs would allow not just access to affordable housing but help the regeneration of disadvantaged areas. Holyrood complains so often that it doesn’t do something because it doesn’t have the power - in this area it does - and it should use it.

Pinstripe is a senior member of Scotland's financial services community.