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25 October 2017

Fearful Tories mull borrowing to build

For a mass programme of council house building!

James Ivens

The Tories are considering borrowing to build homes. It's the government's umpteenth muddlement in a post-election retreat on all fronts.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid says the Autumn Statement could promise up to 300,000 new builds a year. That would be 50% more than Jeremy Corbyn pledged in June's anti-austerity manifesto.

Javid fears the young. Corbyn's pro-worker stand gave a new generation confidence to fight.

Millennials have to spend three times as much on housing as our grandparents did, says the Resolution Foundation. At the same time, our grandparents - and parents - have had their pensions pillaged.

But it's fat times for property hustlers. The Tories gave 50 million in handouts to "rabbit hutch" flat developers last year, the Sunday Times has found.

Given this mess, new homes are welcome. But what kind?

Council homes

Corbyn said at least part of his would be lower-rent council or social homes. The Socialist, by the way, says all of that promised million should be council homes - but it's a start.

The Tories, however, need to dream up ever more markets for their paymasters' profits. Thatcher's 'right to buy' sold off public housing stock. Cameron's 'help to buy' only pushed up prices more. Expect yet another conveyer belt of capital into the bosses' pockets.

The Labour right is no different. Sadiq Khan, Blairite mayor of London, had been on the job a year this May. Total new social homes built? Zero. Total started? Zero.

But right-wing Labour councils go on levelling working class homes to make way for the gleaming monoliths of billionaire oligarchs.

And hang on - borrowing to build? There's a deficit to pay down, we thought? It's almost as though austerity is one big ruse to move more money from workers to the super-rich...

There's billions idling in the vaults of big business. We say nationalise the big developers and builders, under democratic workers' management and control. Requisition unused homes and land. Build genuinely affordable housing for all.

And Jeremy - instruct Labour councils to start now. Use reserves and prudential borrowing powers to show what an anti-austerity programme means in practice. The Tories are routing: sound the advance.

  • Socialism 2017 (11 and 12 November, central London)
  • Discussions include: 'Local government - the next scene of the anti-austerity battle?'

    Rally speakers include: Ian Mearns, Corbynista MP

    Find out more and book tickets at socialism2017.net



    http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/26347