Class Divide widens with widespread privatisation of housing

landisours landisours at
Fri Jan 14 16:45:03 GMT 2005

>From the latest Monthly bulletin of the Anarchist Federation: 


As the state privatises council housing, house prices continue to 
spiral upwards, and private renters continue to pay through the nose, 
all this is seen as the inevitable course run by market 
forces. "Affordable" housing developments by private companies (part-
funded by the taxpayer) are often affordable only to those with 
minimum incomes of £30K-£50K, close to or well above national average 
income, suggesting that just about every other form of housing is 
now "unaffordable" to working people. Builders, plumbers, architects 
or electricians aren't paid any more than they used to, so the only 
people who benefit from this situation are landlords and the 
directors and shareholders of the housing industry. 
Council tenants are faced with increased rent under 
PFIs/ALMOs/Housing Associations and still live in accommodation that 
hasn't seen essential repairs for years, new owner-occupiers have 
historical levels of debt, and private renters have few alternatives 
and very little security. No-one's getting any more for their money 
except those who already have plenty to invest in development schemes 
or buy-to-let. If a house was worth £60K ten years ago, and £300K 
now, is it five times as good? Of course not, more than likely it's 
in a worse condition; house prices have little relationship to how 
useful something is or how much labour has been put into building or 
maintaining it, they merely reflect the power of a minority to 
control an essential resource that was built and paid for the first 
time decades or centuries ago. 
We'd like to see all housing become social housing, collectively 
owned and maintained by communities, so that individuals and families 
can have homes to live in without spending half their working week to 
pay for rent to landlords, service charges to PFI companies or 
mortgages. This means defending what's left of social and low-cost 
housing in the short term, and trying to build up networks of 
tenants' and residents' groups that can take control away from 
private companies, landlords, and the state in the long term. 
When people talk about communal ownership of property, they often 
think that anarchists want to steal someone's nice house away from 
them and fill it with dirty squatters. That's not the case, we think 
everyone should be able to live in a decent level of comfort, but no-
one should be able to live off the labour of others due to private 
ownership of a resource they didn't do anything to create, and don't 
use themselves. Libertarian socialism would allow the community to 
provide for builders, plumbers, architects, electricians, painters 
and decorators like everyone, without exploitative employers forcing 
them to work in unsafe and often lethal conditions. More than one 
construction worker dies every week in this country while working in 
unsafe conditions so the status quo hardly suits them either. 
Communal ownership of housing would allow for people to take control 
over their own homes, existing owner-occupiers would be able to keep 
their houses without paying out tens of thousands to banks, and the 
only people who'd lose out would be the capitalists and landlords 
shafting everyone else at the moment, but even they'd have somewhere 
to live. 


Community based Fight the Plan Group (FTPG) in Torfaen, South Wales 
have been very busy fighting the Labour controlled council's desire 
to build 1,200 private houses on the greenbelt between Cwmbran and 
South Sebastapol (Pont-y-pwl). 
Although over the years opposition to this development has slowed 
down the process the council (whose motto is laughingly "Putting 
People First"!) have ignored the wishes of Torfaen residents and 
decided to go ahead and vandalise our environment. House builders' 
profits come first not our countryside or our health. 
The last FTPG demonstration was outside a REVIT conference held in 
County Hall, Cwmbran. Delegates from the UK/Europe were given copies 
of ASBOs which highlighted the hypocrisy of Torfaen Council hosting 
this event which promotes the environmental benefits of building on 
brownfield sites when they themselves are hell-bent on destroying our 
greenbelt! The council were not happy with the demo, calling in 2 
lots of cops who tried to move us off "private land"! (Obviously we 
didn't move!) 
The FTPG are mounting a legal challenge in the courts and need to 
raise £8,000 plus. Donations are much needed. As building is due to 
start in the near future we are going to try and occupy the site. 
For more info contact or Gwent 
Anarchist Group (GAG) c/o PO BOX 70, Newport, NP20 5XX or  
gwentanarchists at 

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