The Socialist 8 August 2018 |
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Rents soar 60% faster than pay - while spivs plan luxury homes on Green Belt
Cap rents, build council homes, protect green space
Marching against the housing crisis, photo Paul Mattsson (Click to enlarge)
James Collett, Gloucestershire Socialist Party
Rents have risen 60% faster than wages since 2011. Meanwhile big developers rub their hands at the prospect of building more homes for the very rich on Green Belt land.
The situation is so bad that Tory cabinet minister Liz Truss has claimed that "the choice is building on more greenfield sites... or losing the election and ending up with Jeremy Corbyn, whose policy appears to be appropriating property."
Recent analysis from Shelter shows the gathering pace of the housing crisis, both in major cities as well as more rural areas, and gives a glimpse of the human suffering which it causes. Figures from the housing charity reveal that rents have increased by 16% while wages have risen by only 10%.
The unhindered profiteering of employers and property developers means a relentless lowering of living standards for the rest of us, with the most vulnerable hit hardest. At the other end of the spectrum, however, things are looking better than ever for the big developers.
460,000 houses are planned for land the Tories are releasing from the Green Belt, according to the Campaign to Protect Rural England. But the local authorities authorising the plans have enough brownfield land for over 720,000 homes.
And 78% of new greenfield homes will be unaffordable - even by the government's own Orwellian definition of 'affordable' as 80% of sky-high market rates.
The housing crisis is now a national crisis. The trend of rent increases outstripping wage increases is becoming evident everywhere, from big cities to small towns.
In order to live in the style to which they have become accustomed, the super-rich need workers - to run the businesses which make them their money, staff the exclusive restaurants they frequent, maintain the mansions they enjoy, and build their big houses for them in the first place.
Without our labour they'd have no way to make profit. Workers deserve to live in dignity, in safe homes with genuinely affordable rents.
To get this, we need rent controls for starters, as well as a mass programme of council house building and an end to the cuts.
But ultimately the big construction and housing firms must be taken into public ownership, so housing can be democratically planned to meet the needs of everyone, not to increase the profits of the few.