Bearing in mind the tenet that a civilised society should be so ordered that every person has secure housing, it is disturbing to see local councils robbed of their housing stock by political devotion to the corporate sector which favours the landlord interest and delights builders of ugly, expensive, yet ‘poky’ housing.
Having failed to induce charities to take over social care at low prices (Big Society agenda to increase the sector’s role in public service provision), government has reduced their funding and is now attempting to break up the housing trusts set up by philanthropists. Government proposals will eventually benefit the landlord and corporate building sector by destroying the cherished legacies of philanthropic groups and individuals, the Guinness Partnership, the Fry Housing trust, Aster, B3Living, Midland Heart, Orbit, Poplar HARCA, Riverside, Sovereign, Spectrum, Trafford Housing Trust, the Haig Housing Trust and the Bournville Village Trust (below).
- Will they hand over the sort of unsaleable accommodation provided by the Church Housing Trust to Serco or G4S?
- Will much of the Peabody Group’s huge social housing provision pass eventually into the hands of private landlords?
Deplorable case history in brief:
About 800,000 housing association tenants already have a “right to acquire” their homes. Phoenix Community Housing, in south-east London, retains only a small proportion of the proceeds from each right-to-buy sale under current legislation. One of its homes valued at £205,000 in 2014 was sold through right to buy for £105,000, so the housing association only received £27,332 – far short of the amount needed to build a replacement. Those who cannot afford the ‘right to buy’ housing will be driven to the expensive private renting sector which will happily receive the extra taxpayer subsidy.
The government states that every house purchased will be replaced “on a one-for-one basis”
Sadly, their track record does not instil confidence; Patrick Collinson records an admission by the Department for Communities and Local Government that, though 1.88m council homes in England have been sold since right to buy was introduced – which is 37% of the total stock of council homes – local authorities have built just 345,000 homes over the same period. They were hamstrung by central government restrictions on the use of money derived from the right to buy sales of local council housing.
If government means to keep its word this time, profit-driven building corporations will demand subsidies – taxpayers’ money – to induce them to build the social housing needed and promised by government.
Whilst these proposals will not unduly disturb government grandees with second and third homes inherited, acquired or bestowed [latest taxpayer funded stately home in the Cotswolds ironically for unelected minister for social equality], they will give no help to the 3.4 million people now on the national waiting list for social housing in England.
*!3.5% derived from: http://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/en152feggland-population/
For background information: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/apr/14/right-to-buy-housing-associations-your-questions-answered