Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/927/24022

From The Socialist newspaper, 30 November 2016

The housing crisis - a toxic issue for the Tories

March for Homes, 31st January 2015, London, photo Paul Mattsson

March for Homes, 31st January 2015, London, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Almost everyone acknowledges there is a major housing crisis in the UK. As Paul Kershaw (Unite the Union housing workers branch LE1111) explains, a chronic lack of affordable housing has been made worse by the government's attack on social housing. Millions of households find themselves at the mercy of the private sector, where landlords and property developers are making vast sums. Worse still, as the two companion articles show, is the plight of homeless families. But workers and tenants are fighting back and have forced some concessions out of the Tories.

The government has retreated from enacting the 'tenant tax' or pay to stay proposals of their misnamed Housing Act. This is a relief for social housing tenants who could have been pushed out of their homes and represents a real victory for campaigners.

In a further sign of weakness the government has also delayed 'right to buy' for housing associations until at least 2018. It's clear that the hated housing act is in deep trouble.

The Tories understood that the housing crisis is a toxic issue for them. House building is at an historic low, private rents continue to rocket upwards and homelessness is rising by any measure and the benefit cap is clobbering families.

The potential for a grass roots movement resisting pay to stay around the call 'can't pay, will stay' is dangerous for them.

Unaffordable

However, many damaging measures in the act are still moving forward. No new secure tenancies will be issued for council homes creating more instability in working class communities. And changes to planning regulations will make life easier for property developers.

In an important move housing associations will be deregulated 'freeing' them to serve the banks and investors without restraint; tenants beware!

Housing associations own a majority of social housing in England. Deregulation means they will now be able to sell social housing on the market or change it to market rent without seeking 'consent' from a regulator.

In the Autumn Statement they pledged an extra 4.7 billion for affordable housing. For most of us that sounds like a lot of money but it is hopelessly inadequate for people struggling to find an affordable home.

The Tories have slashed spending on 'affordable' housing in recent years and only 1 is spent on affordable rented homes for every 20 spent on subsidies for home ownership initiatives such as the misnamed 'help to buy'.

Help to buy is unaffordable to most young people, although Tory MPs have used the scheme to buy investment properties. It pushes up house prices and acts as a support to private house builders.

In 2012 there were almost 40,000 social rented homes completed in England, a terribly low figure in historical terms, but in 2016 just 950 social rented homes were started.

Last year housing associations actually transferred 4,406 social rented homes out of the sector, and that is before deregulation. Associations justify their record surpluses of 3 billion last year on the basis that surpluses help them build homes; but what kind of homes?

The new Clarion housing association, (a merger of Circle and Affinity Sutton housing associations), announced a 1.1 billion land buying programme to build 50,000 new homes. But they say that the proportion of affordable homes built will fall from 85% or 90% now to just 65%

'Affordable' can mean unaffordable home ownership schemes such as 'help to buy' or rents as high as 80% of market rent.

For decades investment in social housing has been cut. Private builders were supposed to fill the gap but this has not happened. Big house builders have been increasing their profits (see fact box) but not the number of homes built.

Meanwhile they say that they cannot afford to meet local authority requirements to build a proportion of social housing in new developments. On top of this, they complain about a shortage of skilled labour.

They are concentrating on 'high end' homes and pleasing their shareholders, not on building desperately needed affordable homes and not on investing in decent apprenticeships.

Profiteering house builders are part of the problem not the solution. They should be nationalised and re-organised to provide quality affordable homes and train directly employed workers.

Mass council housing

A significant part of the enthusiasm generated by Jeremy Corbyn's first leadership campaign came from his call for mass council house building.

But Labour's right wing shadow housing minister John Healey commissioned Peter Redfern, boss of house builders Taylor Wimpey, to produce a report on house building. Not surprisingly the report does not identify the house builders as a problem and he calls for a 'bi partisan' approach to housing.

Far from making Labour more electorally attractive Labour is missing opportunities to apply an anti-austerity approach to housing.

Labour local authorities should halt 'social cleansing' regeneration schemes that result in reduced social housing. They could use reserves to set legal 'needs budgets' and build council homes. They should also demand no loss of social housing through housing association disposals or tenure transfers.

Opinion polls show overwhelming support for rent controls. Labour should link with private tenants to campaign for real rent controls, setting a realistic level for rents not just restricting the rate of rent increase.

There can be no housing crisis solution that does not start with a massive programme of council house building. This call should be a central demand. The casino banks will not be an adequate source of funding for this; they must be nationalised.


Butterfields Didn't Budge

How tenants on one east London estate saved their homes

Pamphlet by Waltham Forest Socialist Party on the lessons of the victorious anti-eviction campaign by tenants of the Butterfields estate in Walthamstow. 2.50 (inc postage).

Special offer for Socialist Party branches - 10 pamphlets for 10 to be sold or distributed in local housing campaigns, trade union branches, tenants' associations and anti-cuts committees.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 30 November 2016:


Castro dies

Fight for workers' democracy in Cuba


Socialist Party news and analysis

Time to fight low pay

Hands off our NHS!

Hunger strikes, suicides - end detention now

Women bear 85% of benefit cuts

Fight to make letting agent fee ban reality

Hospital admissions for malnutrition rise threefold

Them & Us: Autumn Statement special!

What We Saw


What we think

Brexit spin: demand a real workers' exit


Housing crisis

The housing crisis - a toxic issue for the Tories

Homelessness - capitalism is destroying people's lives

Fight the cuts - victims of domestic abuse depend on it


Workplace news and analysis

London Crossrail workers walk out

Durham teaching assistants determined to win

Strike action across London and South East rail network

Protest to demand pay rise for Sheffield

Young workers in Leeds socialise and mobilise at Unison young workers gig


The fight in Labour

Support the campaign to readmit expelled trade union militants

Conference to debate TUSC's role now and the 2017 elections

Labour Party branch votes for reselection

Southampton Labour councillors vote through more cuts


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Sheffield for sale!

Hands off HRI charts way forward

Reclaim the Night solidarity march

Repeal the 8th protest for abortion rights

Leicester playground protest


Socialist readers' comments and reviews

Readmit expelled socialists: a proven record of fighting back

The Socialist Inbox


International socialist news and analysis

Spain: militant struggle by Students Union succeeds


 

Home   |   The Socialist 30 November 2016   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Housing:

triangle'Ana Key MP' - Socialist artist responds to attacks

triangleHousing safety campaign kicks off in Coventry

triangleLabour MP attacks local student over anti-austerity art project

triangleBristol South Socialist Party: The housing crisis and Grenfell Tower

triangleHomelessness and evictions soar under the Tories

Tories:

triangleManchester: national Tories Out demo

triangleSalford Socialist Party: Role of trade unions in bringing down the Tories

triangleCourt victory for PCS and all trade unions

triangleGrenfell survivors tell Tories: "Step down and resign"

Butterfields:

triangleOne in three borrow for rent, Corbyn pledges housing revolution

triangleEast London tenants fight 40% rent hike

triangleRents up 40% - can't pay, will stay!

Homes:

triangleGrenfell stitch-up: unions should call independent inquiry

triangleNewcastle tenants demand answers

Tenants:

triangleTenants' meeting reveals huge anger

Labour:

triangleVital Derby women's services under threat - campaign calls on council to step in

Council:

triangleBirmingham bin workers - fighting back wins!

Rents:

triangleGrenfell fire compounded by overcrowding: build more council homes now

Households:

triangleThem & Us

Planning:

triangleTransport strategy: London's mayor is no visionary

Homeless:

triangleJustice for Grenfell and safety for all

Anti-austerity:

triangleHow much reserves have councils got?

Anti-cuts:

triangleSouthampton councillors faced with angry anti-cuts campaigners

Austerity:

triangleStriking back against poverty pay

Cuts:

triangleYoung, angry and fighting back

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

17/8/17

Derby

Vital Derby women's services under threat - campaign calls on council to step in

17/8/17

Bin workers

Birmingham bin workers - fighting back wins!

15/8/17

Glasgow

Glasgow janitors win famous victory

15/8/17

Summer camp

Summer Camp

11/8/17

Nurses

The stress and hardship faced by nurses

11/8/17

Kazakhstan

Protests against state repression in Russia and Kazakhstan

9/8/17

Coventry

Coventry: march following racist police killing

9/8/17

Birmingham

Angry bin workers enter fifth week of strike action

9/8/17

Hull

Young, angry and fighting back

9/8/17

TUSC

How much reserves have councils got?

9/8/17

Barts

Barts strike: Keep up the pressure on Serco and the trust!

9/8/17

The Socialist

Postie paper sale

9/8/17

Leeds

Support for Socialist Party campaigns at biggest ever Leeds Pride

9/8/17

Mansfield

Campaign fights closure of Chatsworth rehab ward

9/8/17

Far-right

Far-right thrown out of Newcastle

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle17 Aug Vital Derby women's services under threat - campaign calls on council...

triangle17 Aug Birmingham bin workers - fighting back wins!

triangle15 Aug US: neo-Nazi violence reawakens resistance

triangle9 Aug Angry bin workers enter fifth week of strike action

triangle9 Aug Young, angry and fighting back

triangle9 Aug Striking back against poverty pay

triangle9 Aug Marx's Capital at 150: an unequalled analysis and critique of...

More ...

triangle17 Aug Worcestershire Socialist Party: Brexit - a socialist programme for leaving the bosses' EU

triangle17 Aug Swansea Socialist Party: Programme of the new left and Marxism

triangle17 Aug Bristol South Socialist Party: The housing crisis and Grenfell Tower

triangle17 Aug Lambeth Socialist Party: Venezuela - the imperialist offensive sharpens

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2