Is Conservative manifesto a plan to intensify the housing crisis?
tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Sun Apr 19 00:49:32 BST 2015
A comprehensive plan for housing crisis
Tuesday, 14 April 2015
<https://twitter.com/AndrewFisher79>Andrew Fisher assesses Tory housing policy
manifesto was launched today and housing was at its centre, with
right-to-buy revived and extended to housing association properties.
Under Thatcher era right to buy, 1.7 million council homes were sold
off (over one-third of which are now in the hands of private
landlords) and most were never replaced. The proportion of people
living in council housing has declined from 30% in 1979 to just 10% today.
Since Cameron's government revived right to buy in 2012 by offering
higher discounts, 17,205 more council homes have been sold off. Only
2,712 have been replaced (16%). They promised properties would be
replaced and they do again in their manifesto. Fool me once, shame on you ...
While David Cameron repeated Margaret Thatcher's "property-owning
democracy" schtick (as if home ownership in some never specified way
enhances democracy), but the reality is that right-to-buy has helped
home ownership levels fall - along with other Tory policies including
the deregulation of credit, rising inequality
Danny Dorling cites as the major factor), explicit and implicit
subsidies for buy-to-let landlords, and the removal of rent control
in 1989. Home ownership levels today are lower than when Margaret
Thatcher was defenestrated from office in 1991.
Cameron and Osborne have had a clear policy to keep house prices high
- and therefore out of for households on average incomes - through a
range of policies. House building has been allowed to sink to a
record low, with fewer than 150,000 homes built in every year of the
coalition government. Under New Labour, only 190,000 homes a year
were built, which was itself a low for a post-war government.
Constraining supply of housing has helped keep house prices high, as
have mortgage subsidies like help-to-buy, which have combined to form
a pincer movement: increasing the supply of housing finance while
constricting housing supply.
The Conservative manifesto offers nothing for private tenants. In
fact, private tenants are only mentioned once - and that is in the
context of their landlord checking their immigration status. And of
course by cutting social housing, and keeping house prices out of
reach, then more people will be living in private rented
accommodation - and claiming more on housing benefit.
Private tenants suffer high rents and often
pay (with the state picking up the tab in housing benefit and tax
credits) - those on low or middle incomes have no chance of saving
the deposit for a home (which due to inflated house prices is
considerably higher than ever before), and likewise little chance of
ever getting the security of social housing.
Plans in the manifesto to restrict social housing and housing benefit
from young people and from migrants will doubtless increase
homelessness and rough sleeping (both up under this government).
So the Conservative policy attacks the safety net offered by social
housing (by reducing its supply), offers nothing to increase
housebuilding or reduce prices or reduce rents. It is a recipe for
intensifying the housing crisis that they have cooked up since Thatcher.
Elsewhere in their manifesto they advocate reducing the benefit cap
further, deporting more people from their communities and
accelerating the social cleansing of many parts of many cities -
assisted by policies such as cutting local housing allowance and the
The Conservative manifesto is therefore a plan to intensify the housing crisis.
* Andrew Fisher is author of
Failed Experiment ... and how to build an economy that works
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