They will bloody try.
Yes, its that lovely topic of the Tories Housing and Planning bill!
Like the big bad wolf in the children’s story who ends up dying, Cameron himself will soon be out one way or another, but on the way him and his wonderful army of wolves are doing their best to blow down that brick house, or the thousands of them in this case, that exist over this land. Oh, don’t worry, not EVERY house, just those pesky council housing ones.
There are different avenues the Tories are deploying in this battle to make it harder to maintain the housing stock in this country, with the ushering in of the neoliberal agenda under Thatcher, mother wolf started off the first sale of council housing under her ‘Right to Buy’ scheme, a scheme that promised to replace one for one for every property sold, however not only has that failed spectacularly with a total of 1,902,100 homes being sold under the scheme itself up until November 2015 only to be replaced by 1,163,550 of them however within this number only 458,960 of them were local authority built, and even then only 24,080 local authority homes were built after 1993, this is an issue because it is the local authority built houses that have the real social rents and not the higher, but still discounted, housing association rents – granted, councils do also agree with private developers about having a certain amount of new homes within a development at social rent levels, however the number of these homes is no where near enough, and the homes on offer are far too expensive. It doesn’t stop there though, where it used to be just local authority owned homes that were sold under the ‘Right to Buy’ scheme, the scheme has now been extended to 1.3 million housing association homes too – lovely, this is just what the doctor ordered!
The failure of successive governments to tackle this problem is there for all to see and with 1 in 3 councils not even building ANY replacement homes since 2012 the problem is not getting any better, in fact those pesky wolves are trying to bring in a raft of measures to make it much bloody worse.
In their pursuit of destroying the social housing stock, the master tacticians over at Tory HQ have obviously had their thinking hats on. The first rabbit pulled out is none other than the great idea of local councils having to sell off their most expensive social housing stock, which is a great idea if you want rid of all those working class people from homes they would never be able to afford to live in otherwise – they just can’t stand the thought of this fact can they?! It’s not because of that though (apparently), it’s because they need to generate funds to plug holes in the budgets of local authorities that have been massively reduced because of this governments failed austerity agenda whilst at the same time needing to also fund the discounts that will be given to people wanting to buy their homes. Selling off these homes however will be a one time injection of cash and does nothing to solve the actual problems at the heart of these issues, which is why you can only come to the conclusion that this is nothing more than a political choice to strip the land of OUR homes.
With the sweetener being a maximum discount of £103,900 in London, and £77,900 outside of it depending on your length of stay off the market rate for the property, it would be hard to resist for some who have been there for a number of years. Of course, owning your own home wouldn’t be an issue if they were being built instead of being destroyed through these policies, which leads us nicely onto the big rabbit that is being saved for the main event, the decision to bulldoze 100 ‘sink’ estates to the ground.
Yes, that’s right, the twisted logic that by destroying 100 estates will somehow aid our ability to provide enough housing for all is clearly delusional. Oh they claim that it’s about providing homes that people ‘can have a future in’, however experience tells us that the absolute opposite happens when redevelopment is started as the cressingham gardens estate situation shows, this is not the only example of developers treating local occupants as nothing more than breathing meat who are more of a problem than a human who just wants to live and stay in the area they have known all of their lives, and these policies definitely have nothing to do with the millions that go through property developers to the Conservative party.
You can just imagine those developers licking their lips at the prospect of getting their greedy mitts onto OUR council estates, they are after all located in prime spots within cities, though especially in London where prices have risen by 1000% in 20 years, yes ONE THOUSAND PERCENT – oooof a great investment there for the property buying foreign legion, however you can bet us poor lower orders wont be getting too many of them, well not unless we have been elevated to the level of very well off.
So what next?
Like in Naomi Klein’s ‘The Shock Doctrine’, where she explains that how during periods of mass unrest the wolves scuttle in to open up a countries infrastructure and natural resources to the greedy capitalist class – she calls this ‘Disaster Capitalism’ – this moment can be used to harness a mass movement led by the people whose homes are under risk, it could prove to be a great unifying force of communities across England, it could be thought of as ‘Disaster Unification’ perhaps. Alongside that local campaigns are popping up everywhere and will no doubt grow in size and number as the existing policies continue to destroy our council housing whilst the ‘Housing and Planning’ bill is passed through the House of Lords (currently in the committee stage).
If not however we can be safe in the knowledge that we are able to buy a starter home at a snip at £450,000 in London and £250,000 outside of it, great, but not a solution to this growing problem. What is at the heart of all of these issues though is the fact that the Tories just loathe anything that is provided by the state, they prefer a land where money is the only thing that matters in ones ability to do or own anything, where the state and its assets are like a carcass, there to be chewed and spat out in the form of money generating profit. And there they linger, chewing with gusto at whatever corpse they can sink there teeth into, doing what wolves do best.
They will huff, and they will puff, but bricks are strong, and so are we, together, united.
A good ol’ e-petiton! https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-the-housing-bill
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(Luckily the people of Scotland and Wales don’t have to put up with this nonsense as they abolished ‘Right to Buy’ due to them having control over their own housing policies, plus they don’t have the caring conservatives running the show)