Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/695/13226
Con-Dems worsen the housing crisis
It isn't surprising that the Con-Dems fear that housing is becoming a toxic issue. New housing proposals, announced on 21 November, are woefully inadequate. They come nowhere near reversing earlier cuts to a budget that was already delivering historically low amounts of new housing.
The first Con-Dem budget announced cuts to spending on housing and proposals to undermine the security of social housing tenants that will effectively end social housing in Britain if they aren't stopped.
Shelter expects 35,000 people to be turfed out of their homes between November and Christmas. Homelessness is rising and overcrowding is rocketing as people are stuck in expensive and insecure privately rented housing.
Tory minister, Iain Duncan Smith claimed that cutting housing benefits would lower rents but they have continued to rise; even Church of England bishops have voiced alarm. IDS originally claimed no one would be made homeless but leaked government memos show they think 40,000 could be homeless simply as a result of the first round of benefit changes.
The new package includes support for speculative builders and government-backed guarantees for people taking out mortgages.
But this proposal can only help small numbers and does not measure up to the task of boosting the supply of truly affordable homes.
The government also wants to boost subsidised 'right to buy' saying it will replace homes sold off with new affordable homes. But read the small print: they don't mean council houses, they mean homes rented at up to 80% of market rent.
On 30 November public sector workers will be taking action to defend their pensions; the Con-Dems want them to pay for the capitalist crisis. Housing is another aspect of the same crisis but people facing eviction or stuck in substandard housing can feel isolated. Unions can give voice to the housing agony faced by working class people and increasingly wide sections of the population by taking up a fighting programme.
Eye-watering amounts have been spent bailing out the banks. These banks should no longer be run for executive pay and bonuses but should be nationalised and run for social need, giving low interest loans for house building for example.
There is a burning need to build new cheap, secure council housing and bring existing housing up to scratch. This would create thousands of much-needed jobs. The benefit cuts should be reversed, rents should be capped, and proper secure tenancies should be re-introduced to the private rented sector.
In The Socialist 23 November 2011:
Pensions' strike, N30
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