Grace Hughes, Leeds Socialist Party
Rents are too high, council housing waiting lists are longer than ever, and if you’re in social or council housing good luck getting repairs or mould sorted out.
The Tory government’s desperate response to the housing crisis – proposing to prioritise British people for council housing, dubbed ‘British homes for British workers’. A cynical attempt to pit working-class people against each other.
If the Tories are so concerned about people being housed, why have they sold off council homes and refused to build more?
The decline in the number of socially rented properties in England is a major concern. The number of new socially rented properties added to the market dropped from nearly 40,000 in 2010-11, to a mere 9,561 by 2022-23. This shortage has resulted in homeless families enduring years on waiting lists without any hope of finding a stable home – the housing waiting list is 1.2 million long and many aren’t even allowed to join. Instead of fighting for the resources needed to provide services, councils have sold off land to balance the books. Between 2014 and July 2018, more than 12,000 assets, worth £2.8 billion, had been offloaded by local councils. Many of these assets, such as leisure centres and community centres, should not have been sold, but using suitable land for council housing would be a more viable option than losing them forever to private buyers.
The government’s proposal attempts to scapegoat foreigners, unfairly blaming them for the housing crisis. Social and council housing is only available to people eligible to claim UK benefits – over 90% of socially rented housing has lead tenants who are British citizens.
This is why the government proposals are flawed on multiple levels. Instead of increasing divisions and perpetuating discrimination, a mass council house building programme is urgently needed. It is crucial to prioritise the construction of affordable housing for all, in order to ensure that everyone has access to safe and stable homes, regardless of their nationality or immigration status.