Leeds Hands off our homes: Build New Council Housing, credit: Leeds SP (uploaded 02/04/2013)
Leeds Hands off our homes: Build New Council Housing, credit: Leeds SP (uploaded 02/04/2013)

Another mad idea from desperate Tories

Nick Auvache, Branch organiser, Unite Housing Workers’ branch

Boris Johnson has announced that millions of recipients of housing benefit will be able to use this as income to obtain a mortgage. This is a further sign of how desperate the Tories are to deflect attention away from the cost-of-living crisis, which is decimating the income of the low paid and those on benefits.

People in receipt of benefits are already on the breadline, so the idea of them paying a mortgage where they would be responsible for repairs and maintenance is mad.

Although many tenants may not be happy with their rented accommodation, which is often run-down and poorly maintained by landlords, the solution is not to place tenants in a more vulnerable position. The solution lies in rent control and mass council house building of decent affordable accommodation.

Aping Thatcher

This ill-thought out initiative by Johnson was designed to ape former Tory PM Margaret Thatcher’s famous ‘right to buy’ law. However, even this landmark piece of legislation is now opposed by many Tories who concede that more affordable accommodation for rent is required – although they do precious little about it!

Even bankers seemed to question how Johnson’s scheme would work. One remarked in the Financial Times: “The reality is it sounds a lot more positive than it would be in practice.”

Even if Johnson did manage to implement these changes it would just be storing up problems for the future. Homeowners on benefits would struggle even more to cope with repairs, and if interest rates rise further they would be at risk of defaulting, which could lead to eviction.

Quite apart from this, with average house prices now at £289,000 in the UK, and nearly double that figure in London, how on earth do the Tories think someone on a subsistence income could afford the repayments on mortgages that would cover these sums!

Even workers on average incomes can’t afford homes at these prices. This mad idea has to go, as does the Tory government that conjured it up.