[diggers350] Council housing is back

David Bangs dave.bangs at virgin.net
Sun Sep 13 11:15:09 BST 2009

Good to highlight self-build, James. 

Here in Brighton there has been a strong tradition of that (going back 60 years) being built contemporaneously alongside and within large scale council estates, for instance at Whitehawk, Bevendean, and Moulsecoomb.

Don't counterpose council housing and self-build, though. Self-build would categorically NOT be possible or be an option of choice for many/most folk in housing need.

I am sorry you feel so defeatist about the prospect of a return to council house building. In Defend Council Housing, though, we are used to being told that we are fighting a lost cause. Labour, Tory, Lib Dem and Green Councillors have been telling us that for over a decade. Yet the recent shifts in Gov't policy towards council housing are tangible and weighty, though we have far to go. They are a tribute to the dogged persistence of tenants and their allies in the unions, councils and parliament.

You are right to highlight the daftness of council housing being built by the private sector. That doesn't have to be the case, though. We need to fight for the restoration of direct labour in council house building. The loss of efficient and vibrant direct labour departments like Glasgow's has been tragic. And the figures you give for the cost of construction are presumably based upon the assumption of private bank lending, which has always driven up construction costs and council rents. If we had state funding as well as state ownership of public housing rents could be reduced to what, by comparison, would seem like nominal sums. We must fight for that.

The abolition of council housing has been an objective that has stuck in the throat of recent governments more than any other privatisation.

Other defenders of non-market solutions to the housing crisis (such as housing cooperators and self-builders) would do well to stick together with us in a common front, rather than just stay with their own solutions. Down here in Brighton, for instance, some housing coop folk never understood our struggle against privatisation, and, indeed, sided with the council against us !! (which I'm sure is not your position, James)

Dave Bangs

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: james armstrong 
  To: diggers350 at yahoogroups.com 
  Sent: Saturday, September 12, 2009 12:04 AM
  Subject: RE: [diggers350] Council housing is back: £20m for biggest build in 20 years

    IN 1967 council housing provision reached a record 190,000 units dwarfing the present total production of all new houses.  The reason for the present failure of output is the misguided reliance of HMG on the giant housebuilders building for private sale, who see no immediate  prospects , preferring to sit on their landbanks till sales prospects are greater and price prospects higher.
  Of course Eileen Short is right, that 2,000 is too few. and I note that this number is only a govt. aspiration.
  Some of us, includiong Wimpey et all, no how little reliance to put on that. 
  My reading is that there is little prospect of a return to council house building in a big way. Its a cost that HMG can do without.  The purpose of the gesture is to  frighten Persimmon and Wimpey Barrat et al into restarting building.` They wont be taken in. 
  Facilitating self build housing , in contrat to building council houses, costs the Treasury nothing. (I note the council houses are costed at £100k each)  
  A beautiful detached 3 bed house with gge. and gardens built last year in Pembrokeshire cost the farmer (not the taxpayer) £77,000.
  I suppose its too much to expect any government, determined to spend tax payers money, to realise that self build for self occupancy is the way forward, less costly, higher consumer satisfaction and is  largely independent of market expectations and government funding and is democratic. A resurgence of self build would force     the big boys to restart as they faced a fall in scarcity value which currently part explains the long term  house price boom.    What self build does need is positive planning preference over market housing. Self build is  a (presently denied) human right.  

  To: diggers350 at yahoogroups.com
  From: tony at cultureshop.org.uk
  Date: Thu, 10 Sep 2009 00:29:43 +0000
  Subject: [diggers350] Council housing is back: £20m for biggest build in 20 years

  Council housing is back: £20m for biggest build in 20 years
  Daily Mirror - By Jason Beattie - 09th September 2009 

  A good omen for 999?

  More than 2,000 families will get a new home after the biggest council house building programme for a generation is given the go ahead today.

  Work will begin by the end of the year with some accommodation ready for struggling tenants within 12 months. The s250million scheme has only been possible thanks to a s127million boost from the Government.

  The 47 councils across England and Wales will pay the rest of the bill. Housing minister John Healey said it is the biggest council house building programme for more than two decades.

  The announcement marks a major resurgence in council 6 number built in UK in 2007 for housing after just six new homes were built across Britain in 2007. The credit crunch has forced a change of thinking at Westminster.

  Mr Healey said the programme would also help create up to 5,000 new jobs.

  He said: "Today I am giving the green light for councils to start building over 2,000 new council homes. It means that, despite the tough economic climate, the biggest council house building programme for almost two decades will begin by the end of the year."

  Mr Healey is also planning to change the rules to make it easier for councils to keep the rental income from council properties to invest in new builds. And councils have been given more leeway in managing waiting lists to ensure local people and families are at the front of the queue.

  2,000 houses are planned this year alone But Eileen Short, of Defend Council Housing, said: "Two thousand new homes is not enough. It's not even enough just for Birmingham."

  2,000 houses are planned for this year alone just 6 were built in UK in 2007. 

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