Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/617/9074
The Socialist 24 March 2010 |
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Barking council: late developers
THE LABOUR-run council in the east London borough of Barking and Dagenham has - after more than 25 years - commissioned the building of 63 new council properties for rent. These council homes will be built by private contractors.
However, with 9,000 (December 2008) people on the council's housing waiting list these new houses represent 'a drop in the ocean'.
The lack of social housing in the borough and elsewhere has been used by the racist BNP to win support among local residents, by falsely blaming Labour for giving housing priority to immigrant families.
In fact, the shortage of social housing, as well as being due to few new schemes being built, is also caused by the 'right to buy' legislation introduced by Margaret Thatcher's Tory government 30 years ago. This allowed council houses to be bought by the tenants at a discount. Proceeds from the sale of council properties had to clear councils' housing debts rather than for building more homes.
Since the 1980 Housing Act, Barking and Dagenham borough's housing stock of 40,000 properties has been reduced to 18,000. After the 1983 general election the Labour Party dropped its opposition to the right to buy legislation.
In contrast to most Labour councils at that time, the Militant (forerunner of the Socialist Party) led Labour council in Liverpool embarked on a needs-based urban regeneration programme which resulted in the building of 5,000 new council homes.