Cameron’s housing con

For a mass programme of council house building

Sam Morecroft, Sheffield

Writing in the Sunday Times on 10 January, Cameron claimed he will end gang culture, drug abuse and poverty – by demolishing sink estates and building new, ‘affordable’ houses.

Sound too good to be true? Well, that’s because it is.

Cameron has announced plans to demolish around 100 decrepit tower block estates in some of the most deprived areas in the country. But he is not doing so to build publicly owned social housing available for rent. He is subsiding private developers to build homes to buy on public land – no doubt mostly luxury flats.

How on earth are people living on some of Britain’s most deprived housing estates meant to afford that? Clearly this is just another attempt to push working class communities out of the areas in which they live, and sell off council housing and land to the private sector.

To add insult to injury, former Tory minister Michael Heseltine will oversee the scheme. Papers like the Times and the Metro claim he is the man for the job because he supposedly oversaw the regeneration of Liverpool in the 1980s!

Liverpool council

It wasn’t Heseltine or the Thatcher government that sorted out Liverpool’s slums. It was Militant, forerunner of the Socialist Party, which led Liverpool council. We stood up to Thatcher’s austerity, tore down run-down housing blocks and built 5,000 high-quality council houses.

That’s how you defeat poverty – by fighting the cuts to provide publicly owned social housing which people can afford to rent. Not by selling off land to the private sector!

Gang culture, drug abuse and other social ills are not caused by concrete tower blocks, but by poverty. They are the sad but avoidable outcome for communities trapped between low-waged, insecure work and long-term unemployment.

Yes, we should knock down aging tower blocks where they can’t be brought up to standard through renovation. But they need to be replaced by high-quality, publicly owned social housing available at genuinely affordable rents.

If Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party would commit to that, it would get a fantastic response from working class communities! It’s crucial that we organise to stop the sell-off of council land – and fight for decent homes for all.