New Era estate tenants, photo Judy Beishon

New Era estate tenants, photo Judy Beishon   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Tory party chair Grant Shapps claimed recently that Britain’s council housing waiting list had fallen. This was because of the bedroom tax, he claimed: “Rather than the taxpayer paying for rooms to be empty, they’re paying for people to live in these homes.”

An article in Private Eye says yes, housing lists are down over the past two years. But two-thirds of the households removed from the list came from just a quarter of all councils that had slashed lists by a half, changing their allocations policy to exclude certain groups.

So the problems still exist but many cash-strapped local councils no longer even try to resolve them!

Shapps’ boast of effective use of resources is nonsense. The amount of rent lost due to empty council houses rose 20% last year to £130 million. And social housing is left empty on average for five days longer than it was two years ago, before the unfair, unworkable bedroom tax came in.

A socialist housing policy based on high quality council house building, effective rent controls and nationalising the banks to ease the cost and availability of private housing would solve the problem. The harsh free market fantasies of Shapps and Co. have failed.

Roger Shrives